"Duck Dynasty" has been made whole again.
|Scooped by SierraWilson|
A&E decides to reverse suspension of Phil Roberts, family patriarch of the networks cash cow Duck Dynasty. Roberts was suspended from the network after provocative comments the self-proclaimed “redneck” made about gay and black people to the Gentlemen’s Quarterly (GQ) magazine. Public outcry and interest in the case boomed, gaining extensive cable news coverage. This, coupled with a statement from the rest of the Roberts clan about not continuing the show without Phil, lead to A&E’s suspension reversal. Duck Dynasty, easily one of A&E’s biggest successes, kicked off the fourth season with nearly 12 million viewers, breaking records for most-watched nonfiction broadcast on cable TV. Consulting firm SNL Kagan has reported the expected revenue for the network this year is $885 million.
This decision has led to a PR crisis for A&E on top of a PR crisis. Groups such as the NAACP and GLAAD praised the network for releasing Roberts after his “backward” and “intolerant” comments came to light.
Upon the reversal, GLADD has issued a statement, "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. 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,"
A&E in a way shot themselves in the foot with this situation. The premise of the Roberts show is a very Southern, religious, down-home family who have made an empire worth millions creating superior duck calls. It is a safe assumption that many members of the family do not have entirely progressive ideas, as well as many viewers of the show based on the communication theory of selective exposure, that individuals consume information that reinforces preexisting views and values while avoiding information to the contrary. Releasing Phil Roberts for expressing thoughts that are likely congruent to many viewers sparked outrage. While the NAACP and GLAAD are justified in taking offense to Roberts’s statements, it is likely that those aligned with these groups aren’t a majority of the shows devoted fans.
Once the comments were released, A&E had to know that there would be a backlash from those who are advocates of social equality and needed to start recovering. A&E has used various strategies from Benoit’s image restoration strategies. Initially a corrective action was taken, the problem was Robert’s, and we’ve released him, problem solved. But now, A&E have undermined themselves. I believe they just didn’t want to lose the lucrative show family, but one could argue that the reversal means A&E is willing to stand by Robert’s comments. Now other strategies are necessary. I believe in a bit of a regression the corrective action has been switched with shifting blame as well as bolstering and transcendence. It’s made very clear that these are Phil Robert’s comments and not those of A&E, taking perhaps some heat off of A&E. Since they will be continuing the show, they need to do some damage control for Duck Dynasty. Bolstering in a sense that A&E using the good character fans of the show believe the family to have to allow the turmoil to die and almost shrug it off. Transcendence in that these are his values and religious beliefs and need to be understood in that context, not that it’s any wrong doing for him to make such offensive comments.