UPDATE, 2:45 PM: Some Washingtonians were disappointed this afternoon when no one stepped up to ask President Obama a Duck Dynasty question during his last news conference of the calendar year. The disappointed ones had a pool going, in re which reporter would ask POTUS a question about the recently suspended Duck Dynasty star. “Moral dilemma for White House reporters: Duck Dynasty question guarantees pickup and/but..practical dilemma for @pfeiffer44: how much prep?” tweeted Mark Halperin, senior political analyst for Time magazine, Time.com, and MSNBC. (instead, Obama got asked whether 2013 had been the “worst year of your presidency,” a couple NSA surveillance questions and what he thought was his biggest mistake of the year. Answer: ACA rollout.)
A&E has no plans to edit down, or out, show patriarch Phil Robertson’s appearances in the nine episodes that have already been completed of the show’s upcoming 10-episode fifth season, scheduled to debut on January 15. And it is hoping he will be back for Season 6. That said, the network is giving some thought to pushing back start of production on the next batch of episodes currently slated for spring, according to informed sources, as it attempts to see what it can salvage from the wreck left by this week’s GQ article and newly unearthed Phil video. In that 2010 video, Robertson is seen making an impassioned speech against the “gross sexual immorality” of “women with women” and “men with men.” The video, first uploaded by various attendees of a Wild Game Supper of the Berean Bible Church, somewhere in Pennsylvania, shows Robertson alternately demonstrating bird calls, defining his pursuit of happiness as “to blow a duck’s head smooth off,” and discussing the “shameful lust” going on in this country.
“Women with women. Men with men. They committed indecent acts with one another. And they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion,” Robertson said in the video. “They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant God haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless, they invent ways of doing evil.”
PREVIOUS, 8:47 AM: A&E Network has had to beef up security at its New York headquarters after receiving death threats and suspicious packages from people enraged about the network’s decision to suspend Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson. No formal meetings are schedule today between A&E and the Robertson clan, who yesterday issued a statement saying they “cannot imagine” doing the show without Phil — which, loosely translated, means “No Phil – no show.” That said, the network, which has had a good working relationship with the family (as the clan noted in its statement), is “always talking to them,” as one source with knowledge of the family said. The decision to suspend Phil Robertson triggered a firestorm and has created some strange bedfellows; last night Jon Stewart defended Phil’s “right to say ignorant shit” — joining Phil defenders Sarah Palin, who’d tweeted “Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us,” and Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who’d pronounced it “It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”
Related: 113K Sign Petition Demanding ‘Duck Dynasty’ Patriarch Return
Nine of the 10 episodes ordered for the next run of the hit series have been shot, and Phil will appear in them all, which are not scheduled to debut until January 15. This gives A+E loads of time to untangle its mess — particularly if it runs just one episode per week. Shooting on the 1oth episode had not been completed by the time duck hunting season had begun — since the start of the series, the Robertson family had been adamant that a hiatus coincide with duck-hunting season.
A&E put Robertson on hiatus for an indefinite period of time after a GQ story came out in which he made incendiary comments about homosexuality, and the condition of blacks in pre-civil-rights-era U.S. A network publicist was on site when GQ sent Deadspin writer Drew Magary to the Robertsons’ Louisiana home to hang out for a day. Magary has remained mum about the fracas that has erupted since posting on website Deadspin, the morning the article was released to the press, that it is his policy not to be “unfair, predictable and dickish” when he profiles people — which he noted sounds hypocritical “given all the stones I throw here at Deadspin, like the NERDY KEYBOARD COWBOY NERD that I am.”
Magary said he likes Phil Robertson, called him a “decent guy” who is “a deeply religious fellow who takes his Bible straight, no chaser… and has decidedly retrograde, ripped-from-Corinthians views on topics like abortion and homosexuality”, and that he hopes ” whatever fuss arises out of his comments…will soften him a bit toward what he believes to be wicked behavior.”
“Consider this my own version of ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’,” Magary concluded.
In Magary’s GQ article profiling the family behind the reality hit, Robertson — who described his family as “Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television” — called homosexuality a sin and said, “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” Asked what is sinful, Phil replied: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” He also expressed his belief that the Japanese attacked the U.S. in WWII because they did not have Jesus, among other points, and noted that his personal observations of black Americans in the pre-civil rights South was that they “were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
In its statement, the Robertson clan said, “While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Phil would never incite or encourage hate. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.”
Not long after the article was released, A&E issued a statement saying, “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty...His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”