A&E’s ‘Duck Dynasty’ Lifts Ban on Phil Robertson
Well, so much for that. Following A&E's controversial move to "ban" 'Duck Dynasty' patriarch Phil Robertson from future filming after his comments on homosexuality in a recent GQ interview, and the resulting media circus, the cable network has officially reneged on its decision to bar the reality star from the highly-rated series.
A&E's retraction comes shortly after a highly-publicized petition for "IStandWithPhil" reached its goal of 250,000 signatures, all calling for the network to lift the ban on Robertson, believing his comments on the sinful nature of homosexuality to be supported by the Bible, and protected from persecution under the 1st Amendment. In its lengthy statement, A&E acknowledged its own justifications for their swift reaction to the controversy, also touting the merit's of the show's familial nature:
As a global media content company, A+E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals.
That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. 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 mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate.’ We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, 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.
So 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.
We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.
In the initial days following spread of Robertson's GQ comments, in which the 'Duck Dynasty' star expressed his inability to understand a preference for male anatomy over female, dismissing the idea as illogical and sinful, A&E came under heavy scrutiny for their decision to ban the reality star from filming. Not only would the ratings giant's fifth season begin airing new episodes on January 15 with Phil Robertson still included, it was also seen as unlikely that the Robertson family would agree to film future seasons without their patriarch, considering how much weight the family carries with the network in its ratings.
It remains to be seen if 'Duck Dynasty' will cause further outrage for Robertson's ban ending so soon after it began, but what say you? Was the network right to change its mind about Phil Robertson? Should A&E have more carefully weighed its options in light of the star's controversial comments? Check out a preview of season 5, and give us your take on the latest 'Duck Dynasty' controversy in the comments below!