Tom Gilson

Why Did A&E Suspend Phil Robertson?

I wrote the following last night, and then decided it was too speculative to publish. I had opinions in it that I couldn’t  stand by with confidence. More information came in this morning, however, that leads me to put this before you anyway.

Why did A&E TV suspend Phil Robertson? What purpose did it serve them? What did it gain?

If it had to do with a principled objection to his beliefs and statements, then why aren’t they distancing themselves from him even this week? For they certainly aren’t. If he were as awful as some people are making him out to be, then it seems like he really ought to have been taken completely off the air, not just given a “hiatus” from filming. If what I’ve heard is correct, he’s already been included in every episode of the next season except the final one. How could they stand to put him on the air in new shows?

Maybe it makes sense to them. I don’t pretend to know what’s in their minds. I am trying to make sense of it still, however, and here are a couple other possibilities:

1. They’ve done what it takes to appease GLAAD, while also keeping their lucrative cash cow bringing in the dollars.

2. They’re punishing Phil Robertson for his statements.

Both of those are very consistent with what they’ve done. Of course if option 1 is true, then it’s because option 2 is true: Phil Robertson got punished publicly enough to satisfy the gay machine and put everyone else on notice.

If they’re punishing Phil for his statements, that sends a public signal to those who agree with his stance on sexual morality: keep it quiet!

(If they had objected specifically to the coarseness of his language, then that would be different. They didn’t do that, though.)

I still can’t speak those words with a lot of authority. These thoughts of mine, however, tentative and speculative as they were, appeared to me in a new light when I read these two articles, recommended in a comment by Crude. There’s more information there that renders my option #1 considerably less likely, and option #2 more likely. Read the articles to understand what I mean by that.

My draft last night closed with this:

If either of these is true, then in the end, by my understanding of reality, it’s going to harm A&E more than it will Phil or the family. They’re secure in their relationships with God in Christ. I suppose they probably have plenty of economic security, but even apart from that, they would be okay in Christ.

I’m really praying for their witness to A&E as they negotiate what to do next. Whatever happens to the show, this is a time for the family to bring them light.

I can stand with that.

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3 thoughts on “Why Did A&E Suspend Phil Robertson?

  1. It’s pretty simple really. Phil Robertson is a well paid entertainment professional under contract with A&E Networks. That contract was negotiated by A&E and CAA who represent Phil. That contract had a “morals” clause in it which is a standard clause in most media/entertainment contracts. He violated that clause and was suspended for breach of contract. The recasting of his suspension as a freedom of speech or freedom of religion issue is nonsense.

  2. If it is true that A&E only suspended Mr. Robertson for breach of contract then why did it take GLAAD and their supporters to get A&E to enforce the contract. It is my understanding that A&E did nothing until they were forced to respond by homosexual groups. While you may see it as a only a breach of contract issue, the fact remains that GLAAD got involved and made public statements intended to chill the speech of those who disagree with them. They especially want to silence those with traditional moral values based on their understanding of their Christian faith.

    I still see it as a freedom of speech and religion issue as many liberal progressives desire nothing more than to drive the spokespersons for Christianity out of the public square and will use just about any means necessary to do so.

  3. Larry,

    I don’t believe those the the facts. GLAAD may well have made statements but that doesn’t mean it was the reason behind the suspension.

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