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PunditFact: Fact checking the talking heads

Sorry, Ted: You're only a make-believe cop

Ted Nugent told CNN he had been on raids with the ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals and Texas Rangers.


Ted Nugent told CNN he had been on raids with the ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals and Texas Rangers.

Ted Nugent is best known as a rock musician, a bow hunter and an ardent supporter of gun rights. But his recent description of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel" eclipses all of that. Those words are rooted in Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda and the writings of white supremacists.

The uproar drew a terse apology from the singer, but in an interview last week with CNN's Erin Burnett, he insisted that he had not drawn on the rhetoric of racist literature. At least for the word "mongrel," Nugent said the word was used in his time in law enforcement.

"I've been a cop in Lake County, Michigan, since 1982 thereabout. I conduct federal raids with the DEA and ATF and U.S. Marshals and the FBI and Texas Rangers and heroes of law enforcement.

"And we are re-arresting fugitive felons let out of their cages after murdering and raping and molesting children, carjacking. And we keep going after these guys ... Our hearts are broken that we have to face these monsters. We call them mongrels. We call bad people who are destroying our neighborhoods mongrels."

Is Nugent really a cop? Does he go on raids with the DEA, Texas Rangers and others?

Lake County, Mich., is 90 miles north of Grand Rapids. It has 11,500 residents and describes itself as "an outdoor recreation paradise."

Nugent is a reservist for the county Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Robert Hilts told But, "He's never joined us for any raids.''

The only activity involving Nugent that Hilts could recall was raising money on behalf of the department. "We're always searching the woods for a hunter that's lost or hurt," Hilts said. "He helped us buy a four-wheel-drive, off-road vehicle so we could reach people faster."

So Nugent does not seem to be a cop in the way most people would understand that word. The picture was about the same for the federal agencies Nugent named. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) told us, "We are not aware of him conducting any raids with us." Same with the Texas Rangers and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The FBI said it could neither confirm nor deny Nugent's participation in a raid.

When we reached out to Nugent, an assistant did not provide evidence that Nugent participated in raids with any agency. Instead, Nugent's assistant Linda Peterson wrote, "Ted has been active in the following: U.S. Marshal Service FALCON fugitive task force arrest raids in Texas."

That's not quite what it sounds like, either. Nugent and a film crew "went on a ride-along with a U.S. Marshals-led task force in Waco, Texas, in 2005," agency spokesman Dave Oney said. Oney believes they were shooting footage for Nugent's television show Spirit of the Wild.

With the U.S. Marshals, observers work under clear limits. "They cannot go with us into private residences," Oney said. "So, he would have had to remain in the vehicle or on the sidewalk or some other public area."

We did find an article by Nugent describing his visiting an FBI handgun training facility built around video simulations. The article is undated, but in it Nugent wrote that he found the training experience very realistic.

"Let me tell you, when the room goes dark and the video begins to roll, you become so totally engulfed in the scenario that you are 100 percent psychologically living the event as if it is real life," he wrote. "It is no longer a video as far as your mind tells you."

It is possible this may have shaped his recollections.

Nugent may have been passionate but his words take him far beyond the facts.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire.

Sorry, Ted: You're only a make-believe cop 03/02/14 [Last modified: Sunday, March 2, 2014 4:48pm]
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