According to the Daily Mail (UK), the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty believes that A&E “hung [them] out to dry,” given the fact that an A&E handler was there during the GQ interview in which Phil Robertson made his much-ballyhooed comments about homosexuality. A source told the Mail, “You have to ask yourself why this interview happened and why it ever became public. Someone from A&E was there and was aware of the kind of answers Phil was giving. But despite that, they didn’t ever try to stop it or control it. Instead, they let it hit the headlines and then released a statement condemning it.”
The source continued, “It is our belief that they knew what was going to happen and then used the situation to exercise control over Phil. It is our understand that when the TV executives came up with the concept for the show they wanted it to be a case of people laughing at a bunch of backward rednecks. But when it didn’t turn out like that and people actually started identifying with the way the family behaved and were laughing with them, not at them, they became uncomfortable. It did not sit will with the New York TV types.”
The source also said that the family feels A&E was uncomfortable with the family’s “insistence that there would be a strong religious presence in the show. They knew Phil was the driving force behind this and we think they have used this situation to bring him in line so they could steer the show back down the path they originally intended for it.”
Other reports have stated that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation held a call with A&E before its decision to suspend Robertson.
The blowback against A&E has been massive, with millions of people demonstrating support for Robertson, and commentators from both left and right condemning the network for its attempt to take Robertson off the air.