Big & Rich's John Rich Defends Carrie Underwood For Liking an Anti-Mask Tweet

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John Rich performs at Redneck Riviera Nashville on March 27, 2021, in Nashville.

Big & Rich’s John Rich has weighed in on a recent controversy involving Carrie Underwood, defending her after the season four American Idol winner liked a tweet that opposed school mask mandates in Nashville.

Underwood began receiving backlash from users on Twitter after followers noticed that Underwood liked a tweet from conservative podcaster Matt Walsh. Walsh had shared a video clip on Twitter of his speech at the Nashville School Board meeting on Aug. 10 where, according to his tweet, he “spoke out against the cruel and indefensible mask mandate for children.” In the video, Walsh compared mask mandates for children to “child abuse.”

Rich defended Underwood in tweet Aug. 17. Retweeting a story about the criticism the "Jesus, Take the Wheel" singer has faced, he wrote, “I say Carrie Underwood can like whatever tweet she wants to like. Who are 'they' to shout her down? Watch out, she’s a tough Okie gal:) You see what’s going on here? It’s 'freedom of speech unless you disagree with the mob.'"

Rich concluded his tweet with the hashtag #CarrieTakeTheWheel.

“The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost” singer Craig Morgan also voiced support for Underwood via an Instagram post Aug. 19. “Wow I’m late seeing this. Just so I’m clear, Carrie liked a tweet and some folks don’t like that she liked it. Welcome to America where everyone is entitled to their own opinion," he captioned a screengrab of an article about the criticism. "Weather [sic] you like it or not Carrie is one of the kindest people I know in our business with a heart for everyone and that’s what should be liked.”

Official artist Instagram accounts for Luke Combs and Riley Green were among those that liked Morgan’s post.

Podcaster Walsh also responded to the backlash against Underwood. "Carrie Underwood liked my video and now the mob is coming for her," he tweeted Aug. 17. "She should know better than to like something that they don't like. This is an unforgivable sin."

Underwood has not yet publicly commented on the situation, but Walsh's tweet is still liked by her Twitter account. She has previously shared Instagram photos of herself wearing a mask on various occasions, including while arriving for a watch party for her My Gift: A Christmas Special From Carrie Underwood on HBO Max in December 2020, and while picking up a copy of her album My Gift at Target in September of last year.

The backlash against Underwood -- who recently joined Jason Aldean on "If I Didn't Love You" and NEEDTOBREATHE for "I Wanna Remember" -- comes as fellow country entertainer Garth Brooks just revealed he has canceled his next five stadium shows due to COVID-19 concerns.

"In July, I sincerely thought the pandemic was falling behind us. Now, watching this new wave, I realize we are still in the fight and I must do my part,” Brooks said in a statement. “So, it is with a heavy heart we announce the decision to cancel all five shows but with a hopeful heart, we will reschedule and start over when this wave seems to be behind us.”

Concerns about COVID-19 have been rising again in recent weeks as the more infectious Delta variant is causing a surge in cases across the country. According to the CDC, trends in hospitalizations in children ages 0-17 have been on the rise; the COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been approved for use in children under age 12.

See Rich and Morgan's posts in defense of Underwood below: