Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson will continue to be a part of the hit reality show, despite his homophobic and racist comments in a GQ article.
The A&E cable network announced this afternoon that it’s reversing an earlier decision to suspend Robertson from the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The network issued a statement saying it “reacted so quickly and strongly” because of “core values” of “inclusion and mutual respect.” A&E officials have “expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article and reiterate that they are not views we hold,” the statement continues. “But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man's views. … It is a show about family.”
Noting that the family members often come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness, A&E officials say that therefore, “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,” the statement adds. “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.” That portfolio includes cable channels Lifetime, History, Biography, and several more.
A&E suspended Robertson just over a week ago, after the publication of the interview in which he made statements including “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men” and said he never saw blacks being mistreated in the South prior to the civil rights movement.
A new season of Duck Dynasty, already filmed and featuring the entire family of duck-call entrepreneurs, will begin airing January 15. The episodes being shot this spring will air later in the year. The show has the second-highest rating of any show on cable TV and is in the top 30 of all TV series, notes USA Today.