A&E has announced today that Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson can continue with the reality show despite his anti-gay comments in GQ magazine interview.
The network is reversing its suspension of Phil Robertson, which was imposed last week after his inflammatory comments about gay and black people made. The network’s decision clears the way for the entire Robertson family to resume filming the highly lucrative program this spring.
“While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the <<coarse language>> he used and the misinterpretation of his core belief based solely on the article,” A&E executives said in a statement.
“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.”
The network said it consulted with “numerous advocacy groups” and would soon air public service announcements that would promote “unity, tolerance and acceptance”.
A&E executives did not make themselves available for media interviews and it was not known whether any of the Duck Dynasty stars would participate in the announcements.
Before the holidays, the furor surrounding Duck Dynasty reality show exposed wide political and social rifts in the country and stocked cable news programs for days. Conservative commentators argued that Phil Robertson was being punished for exercising his right to free speech and adhering to his Christian principles. A Christian group called Faith Driven Consumers collected more than 250,000 signatures in an online petition that demanded that A&E reinstate Phil Robertson.
On Friday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, one of many conservatives to speak out in support of the TV family after the suspension, said he was pleased with the network’s about-face.
“I am glad to hear that the folks at A&E came to their senses and recognized that tolerance of religious views is more important than political correctness,” Bobby Jindal said in a statement.
“Today is a good day for the freedoms of speech and religious liberty.”
GLAAD officials released a statement Friday evening but would not comment on whether the gay rights group had participated in talks with the network about its decision to bring back Phil Robertson.
“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.