‘Duck Dynasty’: A&E Ends Phil Robertson Suspension; Aims to Turn Controversy into Teachable Moment

Phil Robertson Duck Dynasty

A+E chief Nancy Dubuc had lengthy conversations with Robertson family, GLAAD, NAACP in recent days

A+E Networks has maneuvered its way out of the “Duck Dynasty” controversy surrounding its top-rated show by consulting with the key advocacy groups in a position to raise the loudest ruckus over its response to the inflammatory remarks made by Phil Robertson about homosexuals and African-Americans, among other topics.

A&E said Friday it would lift the suspension against the family patriarch implemented on Dec. 18 after Robertson’s remarks in an interview with GQ made national headlines, exposing the lingering divide in the nation over the acceptance of homosexuality.

In the ensuing days, A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc and other top execs had extensive conversations with the Robertson clan about how to move forward with the show after the decision to suspend Phil Robertson sparked a furor about his right to voice his opinions.

SEE ALSO: ‘Duck Dynasty’ Scramble Leaves A+E With Egg on Its Face

The execs also kept in close contact with reps for GLAAD, the NAACP and other orgs in an effort to find a path to allowing the show to continue. The rest of the family issued a statement in support of Robertson on Dec. 19, suggesting that they would not continue filming without him. But it was notable that none of the family members took to the media to bash A+E for the suspension, despite ample opportunities.

Before A+E announced its reversal on Robertson’s suspension and plans for a PSA campaign aimed at promoting tolerance, GLAAD and NAACP were apprised of the cabler’s decision — ensuring that there would be no immediate backlash from the two prominent advocacy orgs. The Robertson family’s reps at WME were also involved in the discussions, none of which were held face to face because of the holiday timing of the flap.

“After discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming ‘Duck Dynasty’ later this spring with the entire Robertson family,” the network said in a statement.

Robertson was placed on “indefinite hiatus” for saying “start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

On Friday, A+E sought to continue to distance itself from those remarks by arguing that the show is not about politics or the cultural issues, but the homespun antics of the Louisiana-based family that made it big selling duck hunting equipment.

“We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article,” the statement said, “and reiterate that they are not views we hold. But ‘Duck Dynasty’ is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family… a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.”

The sheer volume of punditry and commentary unleashed by Robertson’s comments and A+E’s initial response added urgency to the company’s need to find a resolution to the standoff with the family. Numerous conservative critics and orgs cited the suspension as an example of the media’s anti-Christian bias given the religious foundation of Robertson’s expressed beliefs, while GLAAD and other advocacy orgs condemned the sentiment behind his remarks as intolerant and highly insensitive.

And even as A+E sought to find a middle-ground solution to its “Duck Dynasty” dilemma, the divisive social politicking continued Friday night. GLAAD released a statement questioning The cablers motives. And the org Faith Driven Consumers, which fielded an online petition calling for Robertson’s reinstatement, also asserted that A+E’s decision did not go far enough, in their view.

“Phil Robertson should look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists. If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps then A+E has chosen profits over African American and gay people – especially its employees and viewers,” GLAAD said.

Faith Driven Consumers questioned whether A+E consulted with any Christian orgs in evaluating its options, and whether the PSA campaign will reflect those who share Robertson’s views on homosexuality.

“Faith Driven Consumers will remain vigilant as we measure whether A&E’s actions reflect true tolerance, diversity, and mutual respect – including their equal embrace of our biblically based values and deeply held beliefs,” the org said.

The PSA campaign amounts to A+E’s attempt to turn the turmoil into a teachable moment, and also provide some cover. The decision to reinstate Robertson to the show may dampen A+E’s standing with some in the creative community, where tolerance and respect for gay rights are considered a given, not a subject for debate.

Details of the PSA campaign, which will run across A&E, History, Lifetime and other A+E outlets, were sparse on Friday. There was no word if any of the “Duck Dynasty” family members would appear in the spots, or if any of the issues would be addressed in the future episodes of the show.

A+E vowed that the campaign would promote “unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in ‘Duck Dynasty.’ “

The uproar over Robertson is likely to give a boost to the upcoming season of “Duck Dynasty,” which unspools Jan. 15 with episodes filmed long before the GQ article hit. Not that the show needs much help in drawing an audience. Viewership soared during the past year to average 13 million for the most recent season. Merchandise sales have also been part of the success story, with Forbes estimating that the show has sold $400 million to date.

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  1. Chris says:

    How about this? If you don’t like a TV show, or what they say or do on that TV show. TURN THE CHANNEL! (don’t DARE say what about the children! Its the PARENTS job to regulate what they watch, NOT the government or broadcasting companies). No one is forced to watch it, agree with his beliefs. Everyone has their own opinions. You don’t attack them, silence them or ridicule them. Doing so, is YOU trying to force YOUR beliefs onto them.

  2. Brian says:

    ” ‘Duck Dynasty’: A&E Ends Phil Robertson Suspension; Aims to Turn Controversy into Teachable Moment”

    Called “how to make a profit and piss people off at the same time, with content about as interesting as watching bread mold”

  3. JD Dickinson says:

    I admire Phil for speaking about the way he feels. Not too many people are as brave as Phil to speak the truth Thanks a million.

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  5. There it is..the last paragraph says it all. Sales and ratings.forget everything else..if AE is for all the good messages DD projects, why did they say anything at all? Oops. I.forget myself. The last paragraph.

  6. dennis brosnan says:

    Obama listening to Rev. Wrights hateful diatribe and Jesse Jackson’s sons stealing conviction and Rev Al Sharpton with the concocted Twanya Brawley story … were they censored ? No way … Phil
    Robertson should be hailed as a hero of free speech ……and not judged by the least qualified.Jesse go take care of your family with example.

  7. Once again, what is Duck Dynasty? I do not watch the show (I have a life) and I do not choose to live vicariously through others as these “reality shows” appear to perpetuate. I was SHOCKED to read that Dumb Dynasty, sorry Duck Dynasty has 12 million viewers. Geesh, I didn’t know there were so many people in America willing to buy a bridge in Brooklyn!!! P.S. I do support Robertson’s right to say what’s on his mind.

    • Agreed.it’s all about ratings..I dont watch the show.AE knew the what n why of their protest.they got what they wanted.

    • Kurt says:

      Your attitude towards is an opinion and doesn’t reflect the character of someone with knowledge to speak to anyone other than your self, good luck with that.

    • bri says:

      Then you have no right to say what is on your mind. As I remember this is America and we can have the freedom of speech. I applaud you for not watching. If people dont like them then dont watch and the show will go off the air due to poor ratings.

  8. There is a world of difference between hatred of people and disdain for a lifestyle that the Bible unequivocally condemns as abominable and corrosive of society Bravo to Robertson, and shame on A and E for its attempt to silence him. Avi Goldstein

  9. E. Paul Smith says:

    It is my opinion that if any politically-incorrect statement is made by a minority, it is ignored by the media, especially by Black correspondents; but, should a Caucasian make any remark considered “sensitive” by minorities, immediate action is called for.
    Let’s all ignore the terrible language utilized by Black individuals claiming to be vocalists, just as we should ignore the comments made by any individual, not a minority, seeking to voice his/her constitutional right to free speech.

  10. Beth M says:

    Watched it once and that was enough. Seems that women belong in the kitchen, too. I will never watch it now and my opinion of A&E has changed for the worse.

  11. roberta ames says:

    I’m sure he knows the difference his words were taken out of. Content from GQ magazine. They r the problem not a/e or duck fantasy

  12. pat dillard says:

    I don’t watch DUCKS but am following the unreasonable double standard of the bias media.

  13. tlaloc1525 . says:

    Freedom to speak your mind is the American way, if you do not like to hear it, do not listen to it. Move on watch cartoons

    • Sharone says:

      And so was Chris Broussard comments (freedom to speak on the person he thinks Sarah Palin is), but he is fired!
      Bottom line is, only white Republican Americans have that right. This is the country with the dirtiest of minds in authorative positions and its double standard is an insult to intelligent fair minded people.

      Guess I have the right to say these things, because I have the freedom to express my knowledge and experiences. So, keep yours to yourself… don’t need your replies!!

  14. I had never watched DD until this controversy came out. Once hearing that Phil shared my views on homosexual relationships-that while we disagree with it, we still love the homosexuals, I was motivated to actually check out the show. I loved it and was hoping he would get reinstates so I could continue to watch and support the show. I am glad they reinstated him and now I will be a new viewer, so make that 13 million ONE. But I am sure I am not alone. Many evangelical Christians don’t watch much tv except news, but upon hearing about the show, have decided to tune in to a show we can feel good about watching.

    The thing is-the people who already watched it had to know these were his views so they are not going to stop watching and many of the people who didn’t watch it, like myself, who support those values are now going to tune in.

    What GLAAD and other advocacy groups tried to do has just backfired and will probably only boost the ratings of an already successful show. This is why it’s just best to let people have freedom of speech and just don’t support things you don’t agree with.

    As a Christian, I never try to limit the voice of those in opposition of my values or beliefs. I may not like it, but in the words of Thomas Jefferson:

    “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

  15. Bill Williams says:

    The Normal-American Community reserves the right to be disgusted. Simple as that.

    If our diversity is insufficiently celebrated, by A&E for instance, we fight back regardless of the dopey leftists and their pressure groups.

  16. Mary Gray Moser says:

    I hear some talk about the good old days, when we oldsters were growing up. Well, I’m 87 yo, grew up during the Depression. Those days were not as bad as these days, but no, they weren’t all that good. Check out Mae West, an actress when talkies were just coming in. She did not exalt Christianity or even humanistic morality. The world has been getting worse and worse since the days of Noah, and they may well get worse before Christ comes.

  17. Shell says:

    A&E finally had a show where Christian family values mattered. For once these other special interest groups rights were finally pushed aside and Christianity was remembered.
    We as Christians have already lost so much with these other groups and what our beliefs are. We have lost Christ in Christmas to accommodate others, the Lord’s Prayer is no longer said in our schools as it offends others. Well guess what it offends me that considering majority of our earths population is still Christian that we as a whole have no say.
    A&E just proves they are hypocritics and that they are more concerned with supporting others then actually supporting family Christian values. But most importantly they punished an older man who’s ways of thinking are his own and his freedom of speaking them were punished. Phil comes from a different era, and times were different. Ask any older person no matter what their race, what they think about things that are accepted today, I’m sure u will receive the same type if responses.

    A&E u are a disgrace.

  18. bridget says:

    If I were them, I’d make the crappiest episodes ever for a and e then move on to the next channel. What a complete waste.
    The only good thing that came out of this is that Jesse Jackson demanded that A and E and the Robertson’s meet with him and neither did.
    There is always a ‘rainbow’.
    Bite that one Jesse, you nasty old thief.

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  20. Why not a Duck Summit. Have Phil Robertson share a beer with Harvey Fierstein.

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  22. Bob says:

    Teachable moment? Money talks, who didn’t know that?

  23. dale says:

    mind your own family and life. keep your nosy busybody selves (and I love JESUS, just not the behaviors of many of my fellow believers who judge other people’s romantic choice as something they should be able to comment upon like gossip hounds!) out of my life, and the lives of everyone else you’re not responsible for!

  24. art josephs says:

    A&E needs to try shorter conversations plus a big check to the NAACP and GLAAD. That will work better.

  25. Pops07 says:

    It’s time for A&E execs to fully repudiate the GLAAD and NAACP bigots.

  26. labman57 says:

    File this as another example of the corporate world embracing bigotry in the name of their “bottom line”.

    In the long term, A&E will regret their decision to side with Bible-thumping homophobes and other social conservatives who are destined to once again end up on the wrong side of history.

    • Arthur Cole says:

      I am for equal rights and treatment for gays and lesbians. I have many dear friends in the gay community, however, I also believe people have the right to disagree with any behavior they want. If someone is highly religious and doesn’t believe in homosexual behavior that is their right. Do I agree? No. I am a real libertarian and believe everyone born on this earth is born free to do with their lives what they want, as long as they don’t negatively effect others in their pursuit. And when I say negatively effect, I mean as long as they don’t impede on others freedoms, put them in danger, or live off the system and others hard work. This doesn’t include bothering someone or even a group of people by disagreeing with their choice of lifestyle or opinion, we all have that right.

      One of the most important aspects of free speech is that the freedom of speech protects everyone and their opinions, not just popular opinions. You can always find some group that isn’t going to be happy about another persons opinions or outlook on life, or religion. Ignore them, fight back with words, but you can’t censor them. I love many of my gay friends and would do anything for them, but if someone talks badly about me, or my race, religion, or sexual behavior, I just think, too bad for them, they are different than me, or even closed minded.

  27. Jimmie says:

    Nancy Dubuc is the devil, and she is killing television. She has made a mockery of once prestigious networks like A&E and History. And anybody who watches these so-called “reality” shows are the bane of all existence, period.

  28. Dennis Bane says:

    A & E must realize that the reason for the success of the program was that it is Christian Value based. No one would ever had the impact with just “Ducks” if not for the message behind the family, and that message is God is the center of their lives. Laughter does a body good, and Christian based laughter on simple pleasures is something everyone can relate to. Long live “Duck Dynasty”.

  29. rusty says:

    He should be allowed to speak his mind, after all, it is a reality show

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  31. Cerise says:

    Funny. If this man claimed to be pro-nazi, the “issue” about freedom of speech wouldn’t even be mentioned. Yet, he voices his opinions against homosexuals and suddenly it’s ok. Hypocrites.

    • David says:

      Yoooou need to read a book sometime. The 1st amendment has been violently abused lately. CONGRESS has not limited his right to speak, nor has CONGRESS placed legal penalties upon him. Additionally, your wild generalizations are embarrassing.

    • Henrietta says:

      Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of beliefs etc,, they are all okay, because that’s what the peoe choose. The point when it”s not okay is when violence insues. That’s why it’s not necessarily a crime to be a skin head or a Ku Klux Klan member sadly, until they start threatening violence.

  32. Jeremy says:

    Cash rules everything around me. CREAM! Gotta get the money! Dolla dolla bills y’all!

  33. Im glad they are letting him back on the show. If the Robertson’s family had continued with out Phil it would have never been the same and i probably would have stopped watching duck dynasty. But i am very pleased that A&E are letting Phil Robertson back on the air.

  34. wlad says:

    A&E has made it’s bed…the only time i will ever tune in to A&A will be to see Duck Dynasty…let’s see how many gay & lesbians tune in to support A&E for all their other programming because i personally hope they go out of business & off the air…DD will be just fine on another network…

    • Anon says:

      I really can’t understand people that like “reality” TV…please stop watching this garbage so we can get this crap off the air.

      • Anon says:

        I care about others I just don’t care for this kind of crap and I just happened to see this headline while on this site so I stopped in to say how I feel about “reality” TV garbage douche bag.

      • wlad says:

        spoken like a true atheist…i really can’t understand people who do not believe in some kind of higher power other than themselves…if you hate reality tv so much, WHY ARE YOU READING THEIR BLOGS???

  35. Demmie says:

    Free Speech “Freedom of Expression” is not a license to hate. Never watched the show, never will watch the show. Men that beat there wives — are not creditable individuals. But the Bible Beaters seem to think so. To each their own — especially the dirty, nasty ethnocentrists.

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  37. Ian says:

    Dear TV networks,
    Please stop making stupid people famous

  38. jksu2 says:

    Amen Tony, I’m surprised that the peaceful, tolerant, diverse moderator is allowing your comment to stay posted on the board.

  39. Zee says:

    It’s all the money as usual. We know he has a black grandson. Hmmm, how many times has he been on the show?

  40. Zee says:

    What values? They can’t wait to go out and kill things, act like imbeciles in front of those moronic enough to watch them , then thank Jesus for it all at the end of each show. That they get paid for it all is what’s truely amazing.

    • Really says:

      Do you buy groceries? Do you think all of the meat at the store came from animals that died of natural causes? Grow a brain.

  41. Really says:

    In the last three years, GLAAD has reported a $4.5 million defecit to the IRS. The Duck Dynasty brand has earned over $400 million in 2013 alone. Hmmm….

    • Max says:

      Yes, Really, You are right. Stupid and senseless makes money in the reality world. Try reading a book or seeing a play. Anything that is above 50 IQ.

  42. You people make me sick says:

    Well the intolerant/racist Christians anyway. BUT you do have the right to believe your tribal superstitious nonsense, just like Phil has the right to say what he wants to say. The argument will never be won by any side. It’s a non issue really. The only thing I find offensive is how people can actually enjoy the show. It’s white-trash TV at it’s best. And I can say that.

    • Ed Talley says:

      Nobody has any intolerance and hate on YOU…good job.

      YOU could spend some time in a Sunday school learning the ACTUAL teachings of Jesus Christ instead of the hate filled ravings of your current associates.

      Perhas then YOU would not be so filled with rage and hate for your neighbors.

    • Really says:

      Most Christians are not racist. You on the other hand sound a bit hatefull.

  43. Duff Miver says:

    A&E painted themselves into a corner on this. They show 4 seasons of self-proclaimed rednecks, then people act shocked that they may have Old Testiment views? This should have never even been a story. Phil Robertson has every right to express his viewz just as much as a gay person, or anyone else. For all you whiners that don’t agree, then change the channel. But you cannot deny the fact that this show has set massive cable ratings for a reason. Unlike trashy “Kardashian” types of reality shows, Duck Dynasty actually has a family-oriented vibe that people can connect with. Sure the plots get sketched, but its wholesome nonetheless.

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  45. Teachable moment? lol You mean, when A&E got schooled by a bunch of rednecks or when gays learned they aren’t nearly as important as they had been trying to make everyone believe for the past 20 years….

    • Demmie says:

      Hope the next time you go to an emergency room this highly skilled surgeon is not on call because you’re not as important as you think you are for the last twenty years

      • You must be joking ... says:

        So, Demmie, you’re saying you’d violate your Hippocratic oath and deliberately allow xlaurenstephens to suffer and perhaps die at your highly skilled hands simply because you do not approve of her comment? If so, you are a menace who does not deserve to work in an ER.

  46. Jenny says:

    One more thing..did you know that Mr. Robertson has a bi-racial adopted grandson??? Have not seen that mentioned!

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  48. Anon says:

    People stop watching this crap,we need to stop “reality” TV!

  49. Lda says:

    I notice that we are to both tolerate and have “acceptance” regarding homosexuality. These public service announcements will certainly not enciourage acceptance of Christianity. In fact, I’m getting VERY tired of “news” stories that both twist and embellish the words and tone of Robertson’s interview comments. When did Phil equate gays to terrorists, or homosexuality with beastiality? Never happened. When did he mention the words “Jim Crow”, much less praise it? Never happened. In my opinion, intolerance was shown IN SPADES by GLADD and now the NAACP towards a man who happens to be different than they are. There should be NO “teachable moment”, now should the Robertsons participate in the charade at all. They did nothing wrong.

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