A&E reverses decision on 'Duck Dynasty' patriarch

Network says it is welcoming Phil Robertson back after dialogue with family, advocacy groups
Associated Press
Dec 28, 2013

A&E landed in the middle of America's culture wars when "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson sounded off on gays and the Bible. The channel quickly found there was no safe ground.

It was pilloried for allowing a man who equated gays with hell-bound sinners like adulterers to have a national TV stage. Then it was excoriated for giving him the hook.

With A&E's decision Friday to bring Robertson back to its most-watched show, it remains to be seen if it can mend fences with both sides — or at least with those viewers who hold opposing views.

The channel's interest is in ratings and revenue, not refereeing social discord.

Will those who called for an A&E boycott unless Robertson returned be satisfied? Will "Duck Dynasty" fans who enjoy the Louisiana duck call-making family but were offended by Robertson's comments watch again?

The family itself, which had threatened to withdraw if Phil wasn't welcomed back, didn't rush out with its own make-nice reaction Friday. The gay right group GLAAD, which had slammed Robertson's comments to GQ magazine, issued a critical statement despite A&E's vague allusion to the support of "numerous advocacy groups" for its reversal.

"If dialogue with Phil is not part of (the) next steps, then A&E has chosen profits over African-American and gay people — especially its employees and viewers," GLAAD said, referring to Robertson's remark to GQ that he didn't know any unhappy blacks in the pre-Civil Rights era South.

A&E said it intended to air a national public service campaign "promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people."

Randy Schmidt, a "Duck Dynasty" viewer in Illinois, said he's glad to see Robertson back on the show that Schmidt admires for its "Christian values."

Although he didn't care for Robertson's comments he has a right to express his opinions, Schmidt said. He added that he's likely not the only one pleased about Robertson's return.

"A&E's pocketbook will be happy, too," Schmidt predicted.

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council in Washington, wasn't among those calling for a boycott but said A&E could have suffered without its "about-face."

"We're seeing play out in front of us this great clash of cultures. Those in Hollywood don't quite understand the values that for many of these people — and I put myself in that category — our values and faith are non-negotiable," Perkins said.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who had said that Miley Cyrus got a pass for twerking on TV while Phil got shown the door, lauded A&E for putting tolerance for religious views above "political correctness."

Other shows have weathered their outspoken talent by simply bouncing them or not blocking their departure: Think Isaiah Washington on "Grey's Anatomy," fired in 2007 for referring to one of his show's gay actors with a pejorative, or Alec Baldwin exiting his new MSNBC talk show after using gay slurs off the air.

But A&E found that easy road blocked for a reality show celebrity who was too real for some, just right for others.

Within a day of Robertson's removal, more than a half-million people liked an impromptu Facebook page demanding A&E be boycotted until he returns. A petition calling for A&E to bring him back reached 250,000 signatures and counting in about a week.

The controversy similarly ensnared the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain, which removed "Duck Dynasty"-related merchandise from its shelves and then reversed course and apologized after being hit with complaints.

While TV ratings tend to fluctuate, particularly during the holidays when viewing drops, the overall A&E audience was smaller after it landed in "Duck" soup than before.

For the week of Dec. 16-22, the channel averaged 1.5 million viewers, compared to 2 million for the week before, according to Nielsen figures.

During the week of Dec. 17-23 last year, a roughly comparable period to the post-Robertson flap week, the channel averaged 1.73 million viewers.

"Duck Dynasty" is the channel's highest-rated program and set a reality show record for cable with nearly 12 million viewers for its fourth-season debut this past summer.

Last week, the family said in a statement on its Duck Commander website that although some of Phil Robertson's comments were coarse, "his beliefs are grounded" in the Bible and he "is a Godly man." They also said that "as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm."

"Duck Dynasty" is on hiatus until Jan. 15, and the network has said that nine of next season's 10 episodes have already been filmed. That means Robertson likely wasn't needed in front of the camera before next March.

Comments

Raoul Duke

Everyone should make a point of NOT NOT NOT watching this show now. Because this was all a ploy to get free publicity and improve ratings. All at the expense of our IQ points. Screw that dude, and you can quote me on that!!!

Erie Sniper

"a ploy to improve ratings." It was already the #1 ranked reality show of all time. How can you improve on those ratings?

sugar

Can't tell you how much I LOVE,LOVE,LOVE this show.

From the Grave

Douche Dynasty

Kingsin

Yeah that would be your answer. First off they had the highest rated show already- do you honestly think they would jeopardize that with a run-in with the GLBT community? That's a great way of sinking your own ship in the PC culture we live in today. Second, the only IQ points being lost are from those who are caught up in everything "reality T.V." Thirdly, I would think that having everyone including Wal-Mart selling duck dynasty merchandise- means you don't need a whole lot more publicity for your T.V. show- especially not negative PR. What this does have everything to do with however is the almighty $. That's it. They chose the side they felt would make them the most money- to heck with the GLBT- the Christian community- the far-right- or anybody else. Always follow the money- that's the golden rule.

Raoul Duke

Okay, then he IS just a complete moron~thanks for pointing that out to me. Because anybody who has a top rated show and starts making negative comments about ANY group of people during this time of insane political correct~ness, can only be INSANE or STUPID. Either way...
I say don't watch it. Yeah, that would be my answer.

Kingsin

And that's exactly where they want you Raoul- afraid and quiet. Thank you for succumbing so easily- you fit in well in our not-so-brave world.

Raoul Duke

???????????????????

JudgeMeNot

Liberals like you RD have nothing - only insults

Raoul Duke

By JudgeMeNot, you only mean, don't judge you, but you can judge other people, right? I knew it...

BabyMomma

He was a multi millionaire before the show. He has a belief and he is loyal to it. Don't like it, don't watch. People with balls don't fall to their knees to please the masses. They stand behind what they believe and go about with their lives. You sir are a simple man. I love the show, and I will support Phil til the end.

Raoul Duke

With that kind of thinking, we'd still have slavery in this country~Phil would probably be all for it. You can't trust those southern savages.
I would also guess that millionaires don't waste time watching stupid TV shows.

BabyMomma

That's poop

Raoul Duke

BTW, thank you for the compliment!

yea right

who in the world cares about "political" correctness..and as far as money..well each time we turn the tv on or buy something or surf the net..someone somewhere is making money..

Kingsin

yea right, I've read your post three times- I'm confused (as usual)- from what you wrote- you said absolutely nothing... nothing...

yea right

s o r r y i t y p e d t o f a s t f o r y o u . .

Kingsin

Is that Yiddish? sorr-yity-ped-tof-astfor-you?

yea right

aww someone feeling left out are we..can not keep up with us well educated ppl.. I hear head start is taking applications..

Kingsin

Well I will have you know that I am quite proud of having graduated within the top 2% of the bottom half of my class!

yea right

out of 3 ppl in the class

Kingsin

Once again, you make no sense. Out of three? That would still place me in the middle- geez.... Can't even take a little light-hearted humor from a person willing to show some self-deprecation- (Oh my, I guess I shouldn't have used such a big word there- don't mean to confuse you more).

Kingsin

I love going back and forth yearight- we'll probably be in perfect agreement on the next story- one of those love-hate relationship things- don't take my badgering too seriously k...

yea right

k

2cents

It's all about dollars.
You saw how Paula Dean scrambled to cover her butt over a comment that is as common among people today as it was when she said it. The only reason the PC police have people on the run is that they have entitled them to a no respect for themselves in regard their views of morality attitude, religion or other. It has become a numbers game and people will sell their souls for the all mighty dollar to keep others happy. Cracker Barrel, how silly of you, your jumping to cover your butt makes you look like fools, jumping to please all. Well my home cooking is better anyway!

We as a country are looking like fools to the rest of the world, they are beginning to look at America as a week, silly bunch of people, no longer having the internal strength we onetime had after breaking away from the British Empire. Just take a good look at the UK, they have succumbed to all this PC crap and are heading down after being a global super power.

Contango

Re: "Paula Dean"

I took advantage of her unfortunate set of circumstances and bought her block knife set at a steep discount from Walmart. Nice set!

I'm waiting for Emeril Legasse to say something non-PC for a new cookware set. :)

Kingsin

Dang, that's a great shopping technique! I need a new coffee pot- now let's see, hmmm, who makes those...

Contango

Re: "great shopping technique!"

Also an investment technique that I've successfully used when bad news hits good cos. like Toyota, BP, JP Morgan and others.

Buy low, sell high. :)

Kingsin

I always did better on shorts- sell high, buy low. Scalp the market

Contango

Re: "shorts"

Brave guy.

IMO, shorting the mkt. should come with the caveat:

Potentially lose more money faster than you ever thought possible.

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