A&E Network Reinstates Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, Fans & Foes React

phil robertsonAfter nearly two weeks of nonstop controversary over the comment's of Duck Dynasty reality TV star Phil Robertson, A&E Networks announced it had reinstated Robertson for the upcoming season. 

The cable network issued the following 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."

Faith Driven Consumer, the organization behind the widely publicized IStandWithPhil.com petition drive, with more than 260,000 supporters signing on in one week, issued its own statement regarding the A&E Network's decision to reinstate Robertson. 

"Despite our celebration, we remain uncertain of A&E's true intent," said  Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer. "Today, in the network's statement of their core values -- centered on 'creativity, inclusion, and mutual respect' -- Faith Driven Consumers are left wondering whether A&E considers us to be a part of America's rich rainbow of diversity."

Stone questioned whether executives consulted advocacy groups beyound those of the LGBT community. 

"Did the network's engagement and consultation with 'numerous advocacy groups' include Faith Driven Consumers? We eagerly anticipate A&E's naming of those groups to ensure that our community was included."

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal also applauded Robertson's reinstatement: "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. Today is a good day for the freedoms of speech and religious liberty."

The gay advocacy group GLAAD blasted the deicision.

"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," GLAAD said in a formal statement. "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.”

Season five of the hit TV program begins Jan. 15.