‘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. Whogivesadamn says:

    Haha absolutely not I encourage everyone to be proud of who and what they are.

  2. John Campbell says:

    One other thing, You stated:

    “Everyone knows that his remarks about black people were happy living under Jim Crow laws is one of the most ignorant things a person could say.”

    He didn’t say that. He said he never saw the black folk unhappy where he was in the country and working the fields. Moreover, he was right. Black folk back then were a godly people, a people I was proud to associate with and work the fields with. We never saw the events of the Jim Crow laws because we didn’t spend our time in the towns and cities. We had work to do and the only way we even heard about it was from a huge fender mounted am radio on a John Deere tractor. Yes, I was in the same boat as Phil Robertson for that. We didn’t have a television set back then and we wouldn’t have had time to watch it anyway. The horses had to be tended and the cattle had to be fed, milked, bedded in the winter, and moved in the summer. The fields had to be plowed, sowed, and harvested. Redneck comes from just what the name implies. People who work the ranches and farms and their necks get red from the hot sun. What’s the matter? You never saw a black redneck either? Look them up. Fine hard working people. Godly people.

    • Whogivesadamn says:

      John you sound as ignorant as his Phil’s comment. His comment implies that blacks were happy under these racist ass laws. We both know that’s horse crap regardless how you chose to spin it. Also are you implying blacks are no longer godly people, I hope not because that would truly show your ignorance. Anyways, blah blah who gives a damn neither one of our comments or opinions mean jack, so how about we just watch the show and be happy.

  3. bob says:

    I think it’s funny that both gay AND Christian groups alike are scratching their noggins at A&E’s motives here… does anyone REALLY have any confusion? Their motive is MONEY! Ya see… what happened here is A&E used the last week to re-evaluate their core audience, crunch some numbers, and see who they would be better off pissing off…. and apparently, they conceded that there must not be all that many gays or blacks who watch their show/channel, because they decided to side with their largest audience, those who watch DUCK DYNAST.

    Does A&E care about the LGBT community? Does Cracker Barrel? Fools – of course they don’t! Are you surprised? Media is a business, you do whatever gains you the most, or costs you the least! Don’t be surprised here! They could not care less about your political or moral concerns!

  4. 128bit.Me says:

    any, o którą napadł Ważny usługi dźwigowe. z strzałem Budowa (128bit.Me)
    świeżo miniony komandos,
    osunął się po niej pomału, żeby finalnie lec na podłodze.
    Po kolei zznim po tynku
    spływał jego omnibus. Frodo najwyższym wysiłkiem uniósłczuprynę.

    W pou widzenia
    pojawił się Kirpiczew, oraz mimo że jego ręka, trzymająca gnat.

    Uważaj! – chciał wykrzyknąć Frodo, nie mógł,
    opaska zaklejała usta. Usłyszał wręcz przeciwnie
    dźwi.

  5. Jason says:

    Where are the celebrities now ? Huh ? Jay z will defend trayvon Martin ( only thing a common is their skin ) ; you know that you are scared to be your real self. All of your bs; hey freedom of speech is alive and well. A&E. you are a bunch of greedy cocks. You people who support this stupid fake show , enjoy your ducks.

  6. Jason says:

    What an amazing country ; people defend without second thought gay slurs but Paula deen says the n word 20 years ago and people flip out. The Christians are the worse , hypocritical , self rightous group in the world; you are what’s wrong with the country. Not gays , blacks Jews ; you are anti abortion but kill doctors. That is why religion is all bullshit. This country is PC when it wants it to be.

    • Wait, wait one homophobic, christian ,AE money hungry minute.as I said before it isn’t really about them DD folk.it’s obviously about ratings n money,but if this family is so educated,acting stupid,forAE ,then what about the other hillpeople .aren’t they being deceived?.aren’t they being made fools of???.they thought they had something in common, a normal not too bright family,without degrees.to relate too.if I was them, I’d stop watching.btw..how many gays or black families watch this show?..I have many. Gay and friends of color.none of which tune in.

      .

  7. Why is it that everyone else is allowed to say what they want about anything, but a WHITE man speaks his mind and everyone acts as though the world might end. Other groups such as gays and blacks can have gays only parades or black miss America pageants, but if there were a straight-whites only event people would think its racist! Why is that?

  8. Tom Anderson says:

    Oh be quiet you blathering little whiner.

  9. James Varney says:

    Phil is a class act, I would have made them grovel.

  10. Chaz says:

    A&E Caved!!

    Millions of Duck Dynasty fans took to the social networks and posted tremendous pressure on the A&E executives who must have thought that everyone in the country held the same beliefs as they and their Hollywood neighbors possessed. Mainstream America connected with the Robertsons and saw them as representative of their own beliefs. They supported their sponsors, bought a few t-shirts and even bought some duck calls to help keep this most welcome form of entertainment on the air.

    Just like the Robertsons, we can argue among ourselves but don’t take us on without expecting the whole family to come to our rescue. A&E met the family these last few days and the family won.

  11. Nelson says:

    First, it would be interesting to know how many of those who have commented online, on air and in print have actually read the GQ interview and watched the show. I think most have just used this controversy as a platform for their own views. Irrespective, A&E picked a winner when it decided to air a show about a rural Louisiana family that made a fortune selling duck calls with a central character, Phil, who is a self described redneck, duck hunter, bible thumper. You may not like the show but many people do and TV is all about picking winners. I certainly find it more entertaining and more redeeming than Survivor and similar shows. A&E has every right to enforce contractual obligations. However, the fact that some network genius thought after five years that Phil was anything but the man he portrays, or that his family would ever go on without him just shows how out of touch some media executives are with the rest of the country. Of course, Phil takes a conservative view of the Bible. Of course, the family would ditch A&E before they would ditch Phil. Hello!

  12. Mary says:

    Freedom of speech and rights of freedom swing both ways. If gays and blacks are to have their rights to express themselves and be equal, they can’t be allowed to deny the same rights of those factions who oppose them. What is important is that no one side ever be allowed to actually deny the rights of others to be who they are. Phil’s comments don’t do that and most people who watch the show like him and his family and the show as they are. The only people who care are the advocacy groups, who are just out to make names for themselves, and the network, which is looking out for its own interests and rightly so as they are a business and have to be concerned not with ethics and political correctness but ratings, viewers and advertising dollars. That they believe this will hurt them is a mistake and a shame but nonetheless a business decision. Would any of us in either the Robertsons’ or the network’s positions choose any different course? It is unlikely and anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves and hopefully will never be put in that position.

  13. Scott Hedrick says:

    “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.” I note that there are no openly Christian groups listed.
    ” But it was notable that none of the family members took to the media to bash A+E for the suspension, despite ample opportunities.” That you think this is notable is proof that you have no idea of what motivates the family. Unlike the people who rushed to judgment at A&E and those who bashed Phil Robertson, what motivates the family and Phil Robertson is love. It is the *Robertsons* who have refrained from passing judgment.

  14. S Ford says:

    Luke… GLAAD talking points don’t change reality. All of your founding father’s were Christian and believed in the same thing Phil talked about (except possibly Jefferson and Franklin). There is no separation of church and state in the Constitution. That comes from Jefferson, and I respect him. He feared a Theocracy… I don’t think he imagined Pajama Boy. You seem transparent.

  15. sam t sauls says:

    The truth is the truth. God always honors people who stand up for his words and won’t back down.Thank you Phil God bless.We need more people to stand for the truth and Gods unending Love

  16. Luke Fawcett says:

    Jesus would be ashamed of most of today’s tired-old Lets-beat-up-the-Homos-and-Abortionist message which they have been spouting since the 70’s. The Catholic Pope got it right–let’s focus on the good news. For Christians to approve of the death penalty and to deny a segment of the population their own CIVIL RIGHTS is not something Jesus would do. Jesus taught TURN THE OTHER CHEEK which the Christian Right betrays by buying guns and killing their neighbors. Jesus said LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU and the list of people they either hate or disapprove of grows by the day. Jesus said LOVE AND FEED THE POOR and the Catholic Popes prior to Francis have all but abandoned this message and instead have focused on abortion and gay rights and supported people who HATE the poor like Paul Ryan. In recent years the Church has become a very vocal Political Force which is against our Constitution. The Misinformed morons like Palin and Bachman keep telling people the founding fathers wanted a CHRISTIAN NATION which is a LIE. They wanted very strict separation of Church and State and put it in the Constitution. They are not only troublesome but very misinformed.

    • John S. says:

      Jesus taught that hell is the ultimate punishment for sin. He also told people what sin was.
      Matthew 19:
      4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, “Have ye not read, that He that made them at the beginning made them male and female,
      5 and said, ‘For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh’?
      6 Therefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
      7 They said unto Him, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement and to put her away?”
      8 He said unto them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
      9 And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and whoso marrieth her who is put away doth commit adultery.”

    • James Varney says:

      What universe do you live in? Do you just make it up as you go along? Christians think Homosexuality is against Gods will but love all sinners, among who they count themselves,, the same. A few freaks, like The Westboro Baptists, exist but they are diminishingly few

    • HenryO says:

      Why don’t you tell GLAAD what Jesus would do, especially the tolerance and turn the other cheek part.

    • HenryO says:

      Awww, homosexuals telling the world what Jesus would do. Wow.

    • Ryan says:

      Well, as is common with liberal media, my previous post was deleted. Probably because I threw a liberal’s argument right back into his face. Essentially, what I said, is that Luke Fawcett is utterly ignorant. He clearly knows nothing of the Bible and I would be incredibly surprised if he has read a single chapter of the Bible. To claim that Jesus would be ashamed of today’s Christians is not only laughable, but downright stupid. Christians and Catholics are against abortion because it’s murder. Perhaps Luke is okay with the murder of innocent children, but being okay with it does NOT make it okay. Also, the Founding Fathers most certainly did intend for this nation to be a Christian nation. In fact, in less than 24 hours after the Signing, Congress convened in prayer and asked God for Providence and continued divine direction. Luke Fawcett is appallingly ignorant of the Bible and of the Constitution. Nowhere does the Constitution mention the term “separation of church and state”. In fact, this term comes from Jefferson, who included it in a letter to Baptists who were concerned that the government would try to regulate their religious beliefs. Let’s see if this liberal website once again deletes a common sense argument that intimidates them and most likely makes them feel stupid.

  17. Tom Anderson says:

    If these twits and A & E had any principles, then they would not have Robertson back. No, it’s about the dollar signs.

    Laughably, they want to make this a ‘teachable moment’. Screw you guys. We don’t need your teachings, or your advocacy, or your tolerance messages. if you were really tolerant, you would tolerate a guy who things homosexuality is a sin, which happens to be in the Bible. If you had any principles, if this guy goes against what you believe in, he should have stayed fired.

    Hypocrites.

  18. Diane Lee says:

    Will not watch anything on A&E. Who are these people. Worst than kardashians. We are a sick society !

  19. So glad a and e will keep him on as the show is great and the family is very much like the rest of us. so good luck

  20. Michael Smith says:

    Well I have said from the beginning Phil has his right to his opinion, just as the ones who feel he should not be allowed to free speech does. For those who disagree with that, what if you were denied your right to disagree with him, and were fired from your job for expressing you opposition to his opinion have you ever thought about that??? .

  21. Lee Barnett says:

    Palin is still too undereducated that she has no idea what the First Amendment call for.

  22. cadavra says:

    And once again, the right-wing crybabies get their way. Is there no network left with any backbone?

  23. big daddy D says:

    This is where I breathe a huge sigh of I DON’T GIVE A SHYTE! when does the spinoff “what does the Si say?” start?

  24. Chason says:

    How in the world this show can be so popular is beyond me. Just a bunch of talking dirty beards.

  25. I knew A&E would bring Phill back. FIRST PRAYERS WORK [ha!ha!] Second they would be with out millons that D.D. brought to there network. Thrid they didn’t want a nother network to pick up there show(millions). Freedom of press and FAN help out for our brother Phill. Can I get an Amen.,

    • Michael Anthony says:

      Another network couldn’t pick up the show. It dies bit belong to the Robertson’s. Their contracts also probably have typical terms that would keep them off air for awhile. All TV personalities have them in their contracts.

      And if you think prayer had anything to do with this, then you are beyond help. You did read the part of the interview where he talked about the joys of the vagina? Where in the bible is that? And prayer brings him back to TV to make tens of millions more, while his fellow Louisianan’s go to bed hungry and live in poverty? If thats what prayer is for, then you can keep it. That is so NOT what the bible and prayer is for.

      • whatgives? says:

        How do you know he doesn’t use his tens of millions to help feed his fellow Louisianians? I would be shocked if he doesn’t give a considerable amount of his profits to help those less fortunate.

      • Paramount Employee says:

        As the existence of humanity is predicated on vaginas, I somehow doubt the bible would denounce discussion about it. It’s the sexually repressed that seem frightened of talking about the body. Was it a little coarse and maybe classless? Yes. Immoral and blasphemous? No.

      • First of all, they had a cable show before this one so I would be willing to bet all A&E owns is the Duck Dynasty name. They could call it something else. Secondly, you launch into an incoherent mishmash. Stop you whining, don’t watch the show if you chose not to.

  26. RL says:

    Not everyone in America loves this show. Sad that it is even on television

  27. Jiminy Critic says:

    They should move the show to Russia.

  28. Scuba Girl says:

    Unity and tolerance? O rly? Where are either of those values in anything that Phil Robertson said?

    Epic fail, A&E.

  29. EK says:

    Blink! Think no one’s listening? Wrong. Lotsa press to follow. Right decision. All so unnecessary! Happy New Year.

  30. Contessa46 says:

    Nothing like the almighty buck to lead you around by the nose! You and your sponsors have no backbone or moral compass. :(

  31. SFSolstice says:

    it was all a publicity stunt designed to agitate the Christian base and insure gigantic sales numbers of their products at Wal-Mart stores all across America. Simply brilliant and the LGBT community played right along as the injured protagonist. Simply Marketing Brilliance. Bonus $$$$$$$$$ for the PR Department at A&E.

    • Liz says:

      I it is a publicity stunt then thank you as we need the taxes here in Louisiana to help care for those who don’t get enough welfare money for not working.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t watched the show but I find it hard to believe they pray for tolerance. A&E, this is a fail. I would say that you’ve lost a viewer, but I don’t watch any of your shows anyway.

    • I think that is exactly the point. The people that were most offended by Phil didn’t watch the show. The people that did watch the show were offended by A&E. A&E could have posted the final disclaimer in the first place and avoided all the acrimony. Now they just look stupid.

      • Richard Morgan says:

        I am a gay male and myself and my partner of 8 years enjoy DD. And we also have had many good laughs and feelings of happy family tidings through our watching. I like Phil and the family and it is nice to see a family with the strength internally that this family obviously has. They give hope to people everywhere that the family is alive and well and is something worth fighting for. They are values I fight for everyday also, just in our own unique way. Phil is entirely entitled to his opinion as I am mine and he obviously is an intelligent person. While religion has never been my strong point I nevertheless have led my life honestly and with decency for my fellow man. The one line that has stayed with me throughout the years has been “don’t judge others without having first walked a mile in their shoes”. I believe wholeheartedly that being born gay( a minority) while very difficult in my formative years has probably made me a much better person overall than if I had not had to endure that reality in my life. It came down to a choose for me….bury it away or be myself…. I choose the more difficult route…to be myself and hopefully saved some poor woman from a painful divorce sometime far down the road. Being everyday aware of my own minority status has opened my eyes to the struggles of others…struggles I believe which would have not been so visible to me had I been born one of the majority. What upsets me most about the continued uproar over gay this, gay that is this. While everybody is indeed allowed those opinions does it not occur to those making those anti-gay remarks that the cumulative effects of those comments is resulting still today in America of hundreds if not thousands of deaths per year of beautiful young children never able to realize their potential. Gay teen suicide is still a very real problem and it’s not just because of feelings of guilt over being gay…it’s the sad truth that the bullying is so stressful for these kids…suicide becomes their only way out. When you speak anti-this and anti-that you are teaching your kids to become intolerant also and your kids bullying is literally resulting in dead children….understand that please. Do some research on teen suicide gay or str8 please. Worse yet in many instances gay teens are brought up with this type of intolerant environment in their own family. I promise you Christians out there reading this right now, some of your children are gay and they will never change from that sexual reality. And some of you know it and are dealing with it right now. The question is will you deal with the reality that gay people exist on this planet and quit being part of a problem that is killing thousands yearly on the planet including many from your own families. Most of the deaths are from famalies where there is strong religious leanings. When you combine a gay kid with bullying at school and no tolerance at home you do the math. There is nowhere left to turn. And don’t think preaching at your kids from an early age will over ride any of those gay feelings…it wont and never has. You people are in a dream world that doesn’t exist in reality and your blind devotion to a book written thousands of years ago re-interpreted many times does nothing to change that. How about just for fun do some research on issues I mention. Isn’t that a fair request. Your teachings are leading to a lot of deaths, some your own childrens. If you suspect your child is gay what will you do….drive them away from your life like lepers as many of you Chritian famalies have done, or worse try to reprogram them like many of you have done, or worse yet drive them to the breaking point of suicide. Free speech is free speech but when your free speech contributes greatly to teen suicide…don’t you think maybe it’s time to take a few hours to open your eyes and at least try to hear objectively the other side of the argument from a factual standpoint written by scholars of the day gay and straight. Of matters this important to so many youths when death literally is hanging in the balance and perhaps it’s your kid right now, please stop your uninformed B.S. and take a moment to put down your precious book and take a look at facts from the other side.The souls of all the tens of thousands of dead gay children everywhere and hundreds more dead straight kids who were wrongly accused in school of being gay are screaming for your attention. If you don’t know enough on both sides of an issue to have an intelligent conversation maybe it’s best to do some research first (objectively) before you become more of the problem than the solution.

    • Pat says:

      If you haven’t watched the show then what gives you the right to judge, or for that matter, even comment on what you know nothing about. Also, they haven’t lost a viewer if you don’t watch any of their shows anyway.Very stupid comment on your part.

  33. 1rtv says:

    Of course he’s returning.

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