Talk about drinking the Kool-Aid: After initially coming down hard on Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson over incendiary comments he made about homosexuality and race in the January issue of GQ magazine, the network announced Friday that it has reversed the decision to suspend the church deacon “indefinitely” and is officially welcoming him back to the redneck reality hit.
A&E’s decision follows a significant backlash from the show’s devoted fans, who insisted the suspension violated Phil’s Constitutional rights to free speech. A petition to reinstate him gathered more than a quarter-million signatures. There were even plans for a sit-in gathering supporting Phil at Chick-Fil-A restaurants nationwide.
In a statement, A&E chiefs declared their were backing down from the controversial decision, which prompted the remainder of the Robertson clan to threaten a “walk-out.”
Certainly that had nothing to do with this sudden change of heart. (Insert eye-rolling here…)
“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.”
The statement continues:
“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…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.”
Additionally, A&E will be launching “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.”