Ricky Skaggs’ National Medal of Arts Award Came After a One-Year Delay, Due to Pandemic
Skaggs' representative confirms that the 66-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame artist was in Washington, D.C., to accept the honor, but also tells The Boot that the presentation was delayed one year due to COVID-19. It's not clear if the same is true for Toby Keith; his representative offered no comment on the honor on Wednesday evening.
An Instagram post from former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer shows Keith next to Trump, about to be presented with his medal, during the ceremony. Additional photos and a caption from Spicer note that in addition to Keith and Skaggs, three others received the honor on Wednesday: opera and theater star Mary Costa, National Gallery of Art Director Earl Powell III and wartime photojournalist Nick Ut, who is most famous for the photograph "The Terror or War," shown in the third slide of Spicer's post.
Typically, presidents award as many as 10 or 12 Medals of Arts each year, but until 2019, Trump had awarded just four in total, including one to Alison Krauss. This 2021 ceremony is notable, as it appears to have happened as impeachment proceedings were taking place in the House of Representatives.
A narrative had formed on social media indicating that Trump may have timed the ceremony to deflect attention from the impeachment, or that he'd hand-chosen these singers to further target a certain group of his supporters as he plans his next step once he's out of office.