Here's A & E network, half-owned by Diz Co. at the beginning of the Duck Dynasty hoo hah:
... “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.” ...
Ah, but that was then (like, a week ago) and this is now: ...
... A+E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals. ...
(Except, you know, the principals are ... ahm ... flexible.)
That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the “coarse language” he used and the mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate.’ We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold.
But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family… a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.
So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming “Duck Dynasty” later this spring with the entire Robertson family.
In other words, Phil's back (after a few days of exile) and A & E's got him!
What you mainly have here, despite the attempted window-dressing in the press release, is a cave by the network. Why?
Simple. The Robertsons hold all the cards and so have all the leverage.
They're rich and don't need the Disney/Hearst money. They believe what they believe, and have no intention of abandoning their values. And they pull in an awful lot of viewers for A & E.
The last item is the important one. The only things that A & E believes in, really, are the viewers and money the Robertsons have generated for Hearst/Disney.
So now, if things go right, everybody can win: The notoriety should goose the Robertsons' tall ratings even higher. A & E can continue to make boatloads of money. And the corporate chieftans can pretend all the recent unpleasantness is just one more rest station on the long highway of Phil's personal journey.
But kindly note the lesson here: The Family Robertson didn't budge. The mega corporations Hearst/Disney flip-flopped.
Because, boys and girls, leverage.
Add On: Not that the leverage will necessarily go down well:
GLAAD, the advocacy group whose swift reaction condemning Phil Robertson’s controversial comments to GQ contributed to A&E’s decision to suspend the Duck Dynasty star on Dec. 18, has issued a statement in response to A&E’s decision today to lift Robertson’s suspension.
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.