After publicly suspending "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson following his racially insensitive and homophobic remarks, A&E publicly chickened out--late on a holiday Friday evening. USA Today, quoting a statement from the show's broadcaster, A&E:
"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," the statement said. "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."
Here's the deal, guys. Phil Robertson is obvious and predictable. Who is surprised that a cartoon hillbilly with his own reality show is a bigot? And would eventually be seen to say bigoted things in public? The bigger problem is his cover, A&E, relentless author of smarmy and insincere evocations of respect and tolerance, and handmaiden to the public acceptance of his bigotry.
The channel has been a coward throughout: it knew what it hired, but spoke of "core values" and "inclusion" and "mutual respect" when it canned him. Then it talked of the same things when it reversed itself. Inclusion and respect for everyone!
Its latest act of mollifcation, aimed at an audience whose wrath it underestimated and has judged the greater threat to its business, comes with a few testy "reminders" that Robertson was misinterpreted and that he regrets his coarseness. See? All the while, it was you, not A&E, that was getting all confused about things.
You can't do much about Phil Robertson, but you can do plenty about A&E.