A mere eight days after placing Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson on "indefinite hiatus" following his homophobic comments to GQ Magazine, A+E has caved to Internet demand and brought Robertson back to the cast of the popular cable show. The reinstatement comes after a petition at IStandWithPhil.com garnered 259,979 signatures (at the time of publication)—a mere 2% of the show's average 11.8 million viewer audience.
A statement from A+E reads:
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.
It's unclear which advocacy groups supported the cable network's decision to reinstate Robertson—especially given the fact that his lack of public statement doesn't quite display the values A+E holds dear: unity, tolerance, forgiveness. His family's half-assed apology on his behalf managed to convince the network of his contrition—after all, it had nothing to do with their cut of the $400 million in merchandise fees, did it?