John Rich is defending Carrie Underwood after the American Idol alum liked a tweet protesting mask mandates at schools.
On Tuesday, Aug. 18, numerous Twitter users noticed that the "Jesus Take the Wheel" singer had liked a tweet from conservative figure Matt Walsh, who shared a video of his Aug. 10 speech at the Nashville School Board meeting. In the two-minute clip, he likened a mask mandate to "child abuse," writing in his caption that forcing children to wear masks is "cruel and indefensible."
Underwood's apparent support for Walsh's statements sparked backlash across social media, with some jokingly remarking, "Jesus take the wheel indeed."
Amid the controversy, which briefly trended online, the Big and Rich artist spoke out in defense of his fellow country singer. "I say @carrieunderwood can like whatever tweet she wants to like. Who are 'they' to shout her down? Watch out, she's a tough Okie gal:)" he wrote. "You see what's going on here? It's 'freedom of speech unless you disagree with the mob.' #CarrieTakeTheWheel"
Underwood has yet to publicly address the conversation surrounding her Twitter activity. E! News reached out to her reps for comment, but did not hear back.
This is seemingly the first time the 38-year-old star has expressed mistrust of the science behind masks as protection against COVID-19, which has become widely politicized. The mother of two previously told The Guardian she tries to "stay far out of politics if possible."
In December, the artist shared a photo of herself wearing a mask as she attended an event. She captioned the pic, "Arriving at a safe and socially distanced watch party of my new Christmas Special!"
And in April, she took part in the #IStayHome challenge after being nominated by Dolly Parton, who donated $1 million to coronavirus research. At the time, she shared that she was social distancing for her sons, encouraging others to do the same as the coronavirus pandemic worsened.
Meanwhile, comedian Billy Eichner tweeted an image showing that Underwood had blocked him on the platform. He captioned the screengrab, "ICONIC."
"And for the record, I didn't even tweet about her anti-mask views yesterday," he added. "She had ALREADY blocked me! I'm now taking a little Twitter break because honestly this is one of the proudest moments of my career and it will be hard to top. Love you all."