Haggard single critical of media coverage of Iraq war

Friday, July 25th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A new Merle Haggard song that's critical of the media's coverage of the war in Iraq is garnering so much attention that it's being rushed to thousands of radio stations around the country, a spokesman for the country singer said Thursday.

``We're mailing it out as we speak,'' Tom Thacker, vice president of Hag Records, said of the song ``That's the News.'' ``It's going to a broad range of stations.''

Thacker said the song has generated interest from media and fans.

``It's another one of Merle Haggard's social commentaries,'' he said. ``This time it's kind of opposed to the tone of 'The Fightin' Side of Me.'''

That 1970 song was a pro-America anthem at the height of the Vietnam War.

The new song chides the media for focusing on celebrity news and the death of Laci Peterson and her unborn child while fighting continues in Iraq.

Haggard sings, ``Suddenly it's over, the war is finally done/Soldiers in the desert sand still clinging to a gun/No one is the winner and everyone must lose/Suddenly the war's over, that's the news.''

The song ends with the lines, ``Politicians do all the talking, soldiers pay the dues/Suddenly the war is over, that's the news.''

The single will be included on Haggard's new album, ``Haggard Like Never Before,'' to be released in October.

Haggard's song strikes a different tone than two recent country hits that supported war with Iraq: Darryl Worley's ``Have You Forgotten?'' and Toby Keith's ``Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American).''

It also follows a sharp backlash against the Dixie Chicks earlier this year after singer Natalie Maines made a remark about President Bush at a London concert shortly before the Iraq war. ``Just so you know,'' she said, ``we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.''

Maines apologized for the phrasing of her remark, but sales of the Texas trio's discs plummeted and some radio stations banned their singles.

In an essay on Haggard's Web site, the singer writes, ``I don't even know the Dixie Chicks, but I find it an insult for all men and women who fought and died in past wars when almost the majority of America jumped down their throats for voicing an opinion. It was like a verbal witch-hunt and lynching.''