'Duck Dynasty' patriarch gets reprieve from A&E

Associated Press Published:

LOS ANGELES -- "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson will return to work on A&E's reality show despite his comments about gay immorality, the channel said Friday, reversing its decision to suspend him after facing a boycott backlash.

In a statement Friday, A&E said it was bringing Robertson back after discussions with his Louisiana family featured in the hit reality series and "numerous advocacy groups."

Last week, the channel put Robertson on what it called an indefinite "hiatus" because of his comments in a GQ magazine article that the Bible views gays as sinners akin to adulterers, prostitutes and swindlers.

A&E said it decided to drop Robertson from the show about a wealthy family that makes duck calls because it is part of a company whose core values are "centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect."

While reiterating that Robertson's views are not those of the channel, A&E noted Friday that he has publicly said he would "never incite or encourage hate." The show itself is more than one man's views, it added.

"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," A&E said.

The Robertson family said it had no immediate comment Friday.

Robertson's remarks in GQ were quickly slammed by groups including GLAAD, the gay rights watchdog organization. GLADD did not immediately respond Friday to requests for comment, nor did the Human Rights Campaign, another gay rights group.

But A&E's move against Robertson provoked a flood of support from those who share his views and others who defended his freedom of speech.

Within a day, 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.

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 period, the channel averaged 17.3 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.

Randy Schmidt, a "Duck Dynasty" fan in Illinois, said he's glad to see Robertson return to the show that Schmidt said has "Christian values."

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

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

Robertson's well-known supporters included former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who complained that his free-speech rights were being trampled. Bobby Jindal, governor of the state of Louisiana, complained that Miley Cyrus got a pass for twerking on TV while Phil got shown the door.

Last week, the family said in a statement on its Duck Commander website (http://bit.ly/1c5vI5G ) 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.

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

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AP Writer John Rogers contributed to this report.

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Online: http://www.aetv.com/duck-dynasty

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  • Taggr,  The actions of Miley Cirus indicate actions of defiance and going against the norm. This in iteself is indicative of someone who hates the norm and as such then is performing a true hate crime in the worst sense.

    Mr. Robertsons actions and views are an extension of what his life has been and how he and billions of others have been taught through the ages.

    The eyes of the foolish and ignorant and the minds behind those eyes are the one who determine whether what Mr. Roberston has done is a hate crime.

    In reality, Mr. Robertson's are so far removed from being a hate crime that it would take a complete idiot to even assume it is a hate crime.

    What Ms. Cyrus has done with a wrecking ball is extremely wrong and actually I am not shocked that the media even ever showed it in the first place.  What it does show that we have become tolerant of the hate crimes produced by people like Ms. Cyrus and we have also become numb to them.  It has occurred so much that I rarely watch regular TV any more and stick to shows as close to Duck Dynasty as I can.

    Organizations such as GLADD and the other are the worst hate mongers out there and we should really be doing someting about them.

    We really need more Phil Roberstons out there.

    I don't follow Palin, I don't follow Bobby Jindel.

    But I would follow someone like Phil Roberston.  Someone like Miley Cyrus, probably would put them in jail or a hospital to find out what went wrong.

    Martin Fleming

  • Comparing a young pop stars twerking performance to a hate speech. Would some conservative minded idiot please explain the similarites? 
    And if Booby Jindel thinks Miley got a pass for that twerking incident, he must of left this planet after it happened. 
    As for Palin, she just tries to get media attention whenever possible.  She has no political future.