Country music and national politics have overlapped awkwardly and combustibly for decades, and in the life of Kurt Bardella the juxtaposition is a daily matter. Bardella is a DC-based political operative, pundit and writer. Most of his career was as a conservative Republican. He worked for Rep. Darrell Issa of California and then for the profoundly controversial Breitbart News. Then, after the Trumpian revolution in the GOP and sparked by the party not separating itself from accused pedophile Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore, he changed parties and became a Democrat.
He wrote in a USA Today manifesto that the Republicans had become “a party that constantly buries its head in the sand on climate change, racial profiling, guns, LGBTQ equality, income inequality, food insecurity, paid family leave and the treatment of women.”
As for country music, a little over two years ago, Bardella launched a morning tip sheet for country music fans and businesspeople called The Morning Hangover. It was a hobby born he says only out of his personal love for the music, and it's grown into likely the most widely read news daily in the business. Modeled after the political tip sheets that often drive the day’s agenda in Washington, the Hangover covers record release news, videos, tour announcements and collaborations.
Bardella came to Nashville for the Country Radio Seminar which took place last week. I asked him for a few minutes. Our interview, which appeared first on WMOT’s The String, is featured here in its entirety.
On country music in a polarized America:
“There is something to the idea that country music at times has an outstated reputation for being conservative or Republican. I think some of that stems from the Dixie Chicks fallout. Some of it stems from the mainstream media not understanding this genre and format and at times reaching for stereotypes to draw conclusions.”
On the 2017 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival:
“It hit close to home to me, because I was supposed to be there. I know exactly where I would have stood at the moment where the bullets started flying. My goal (on television) was to represent the country music community in the way that I see it, at a time when there was a lot of judgment going around. People were referencing songs like Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead” as a culture that invites this type of behavior with guns, which is absurd. A lot of reporters were taking a lot of liberty with a form that they don’t know or understand but at the same time advocating for the viewpoint of a lot of folks that I talk to in this community that yeah, we need some gun reform. (I was trying) to explain to each ecosystem what the other is thinking and why.”
On backlash from the country music community after changing parties from Republican to Democrat:
“Shockingly I haven’t. I’m glad to say that. I’ve had people who I know 100% disagree with what I believe who have told me straight to my face - I disagree with you but I respect you. I know you’re coming from an informed opinion. We can agree to disagree on this but still be brothers at the end of the day.”