NEW YORK — A&E’s decision to lift its temporary suspension of Phil Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” came down to the almighty dollar, according to a top executive at the network.
A&E Networks and the Robertson family announced Friday that Phil will remain a part of the series, and while A&E’s official statement to The Hollywood Reporter cited “creativity, inclusion and mutual respect” when lifting the suspension. An executive who asked that his name not be published defended the decision by saying that A&E “is worried about money and not morality or equality.”
The polarizing patriarch of the Robertson family was put on “hiatus” since Dec. 18 following his incendiary remarks about gays and blacks in a recent interview with GQ.
A&E’s hasty decision to suspend Robertson sparked a furious national conversation about the difference between hate speech and free speech. Organizations like GLAAD and the NAACP praised the suspension, but a petition to have Robertson brought back received over 260,000 signatures.
“Do you think we really care either way?” asked the executive. “He could have said that God hates panda bears and white children for all we care. We’re not throwing away fifteen million viewers a week because this guy has some unpopular opinions.”
The A&E executive said he was “tired of defending that duck-hunting moron to organizations like GLAAD and Faith Driven Consumers who won’t let the issue die.” Both organizations released statements on Friday questioning the cable network’s motives.
“We can’t make everybody happy. We suspended him for a few days. You want us to cancel the most popular reality show of all time because someone said a vagina is better than a man’s anus? Some people like to eat French fries with mayonnaise, so who are we to judge?” ranted the A&E insider.
Season five of “Duck Dynasty” will debut on Jan. 15 with Phil Robertson front and center.