Duck Dynasty is the most popular reality show on cable TV and it is a major part of A&E’s business plan. According to Nielsen, the Season 4 premiere was the most-watched nonfiction telecast ever on cable TV.
More significantly, by suspending patriarch Phil Robertson for his comments made to GQ magazine that he believes homosexuality is a sin, Duck Dynasty has become a major battleground in the American culture war of progressives led by GLAAD and traditionalists led by… well Phil Robertson.
A&E’s decision is to pull Robertson from the show smacks of blatant hypocrisy. Robertson had expressed his views previously about his conservative Christianity along with his love for guns, and that is what A&E has been banking on since the onset of the show.
Jeffrey McCall, a media studies professor at DePaul University, stated, “The programmers want to manage every aspect of their ‘reality’ commodities, but that isn’t really possible.” McCall added, “If A&E didn’t like the Robertsons as they are, then why did they give them a weekly platform?” According to Scott Collins in his Show Tracker column in the LA Times, the TV industry is “trying to profit off the same cultural tensions it’s exploiting.”
The suspension of Robertson has created a huge conservative backlash, and stalwarts of the traditional values movement are lending Robertson their support. Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity have all expressed support for Robertson.