Wow! Embarrassing! A&E Takes Phil Robertson Back – Update

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Updates at the end of the post

Phil Robertson was welcomed back to A&E today, leaving the network with egg on its face. As it turns out, the indefinite suspension of Phil Robertson was only 9 days long to say nothing of the fact that on Christmas Day, A&E featured a Duck Dynasty marathon.

Robertson then and now

Phil Robertson, then and now

They didn’t give a lot of thought to their decision to push Robertson out and they definitely didn’t anticipate the backlash from his supporters.

Phil Robertson voiced opinions in a recent GQ interview that hurt some people but that was not his intent. He was trying to send a message that he thinks will save their souls.  There did not seem to be any malice but only an expressed religious belief based on a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Personally, if I were him, I’d leave the judgment of others going to Hell to God. It’s above his pay grade.

A&E is a private business and they can fire whomever they want. However, it’s eminently unfair to their shareholders to kill the hit show without giving it more thought than they gave it.

Though it is not a free speech case legally, it is morally. Phil Robertson had the right to say what he said. We have a First Amendment in this country and anyone who appreciates it, should be standing up for Robertson no matter what they think of his comments.

A&E calls themselves the cultural channel, and Robertson and his family reflect a culture in America, much of it is very good if foreign to some of us. To hide it from the world is not going to enlighten anyone. This show has people captivated and it has people talking. That could turn into a good outcome.

The inconsistency shown by A&E standing by their principles and then not, doesn’t do much for their image. It has hurt their credibility.

It proves that networks don’t have a soul but they can be schizophrenic.

In time, people will forget and Duck Dynasty will go the way of all reality shows.

Case in point, the once incredibly popular Kardashian Show is going off the air!

A&E’S STATEMENT

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.

A PSA? It seems pointless. What do you think?

Read more at Fox Nation

UPDATE

CarolynSistah, a reader, made a great point when she commented on this post:

Yes, they can fire whomever they want; but if they have 15 or more employees, federal and state EEO laws prohibits them from taking adverse employment actions based upon an employees’ religious beliefs, race/color, gender, or national origin. These protections came about under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I believe that money was the primary factor in A&E’s change of heart regarding reinstatement of Phil Robertson. But I also believe that Title VII protections also played a role, whether Phil was under contract or not.

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