This week A&E television made one of the dumbest business moves in the history of broadcast media. They have likely lost the most-profitable, most-watched, most-followed, and most-loved non-fiction cable television prime time show in the history of cable television.
Duck Dynasty scored nearly 12 million viewers for its season premiere in 2013 (beating everything else on television that night,) and for it's Christmas special which aired a few weeks removed from the end of the season it brought back another 9 million viewers. Season five is scheduled to begin in January of 2014.
Unless they've gone and done the nearly inconceivable--alienated and ended their most successful partnership in the history of their network.
Why would they do that?
A couple of reasons...
For starters they are not super analytical thinkers that take the time to examine the longer term impact of their actions. They also were evidently super easy to intimidate by the activist group GLAAD. The same sexual activist group who takes the art of defamation to new heights.
GLAAD (The Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) in fact has made a lot of money off of defaming nearly everyone it ever speaks critically of. As an organization they are so thin skinned they even refused to appear on Megyn Kelly's broadcast this week in a side by side segment with one of the personalities they regularly defame.
In short A&E's biggest problem in how they handled the "problem" Phil Robertson can be summed up in one word: "pluck."
It's an incredible word for the purpose of this discussion, largely because all four of its main definitions apply to the "problem" of Phil Robertson.
pluck (a verb) - 1. to take hold of something and quickly remove it from its place.
Describing the exact action that caused most of the distress that A&E executives are now feeling, they believed they could pluck Phil Robertson--the patriarch--from the television show that is designed around him and his family and that there would be no consequence. Oddly now this definition is what the Robertson family may also invoke. For they have confirmed that their love of family is stronger than the love of fame or dollar.
pluck (a noun) - 1. spirited and determined courage.
This is the element of character that Phil has consistently shown throughout his public life--saying, being, and living things that appear grotesquely politically incorrect--while never caring a lick about the need to justify his actions to the "yuppies" that would wish him to change. This is a character trait that escapes the spineless at GLAAD, and the feckless at A&E, but it is one of the definable character traits that endeared Phil Robertson--in particular--to the American people. Phil Robertson is the closest manifestation the American public has had since John Wayne of what genuine manhood looks like. Masculine, confident, tough, winsome, and kind--these are not the traits that our culture wishes its boys to grow up becoming, but they are the traits of what real men exhibit nonetheless.
pluck (a noun) - 2. the heart, lungs, and liver of an animal as food.
It's a modern day miracle that PETA wasn't on the Robertson case long before GLAAD, for the pure consumption of game, fowl, and bullfrog that "The Duck" feasts on week after week. At least they have been wise enough to understand that America loves the Robertsons and criticisms along these lines might only increase the fascination of such living.
pluck (a verb) - 2. quickly or suddenly remove someone from a dangerous or unpleasant situation.
This was what A&E believed they had accomplished for their operation. But in doing so Duck Commander gear has sold out across the nation. In doing so more than 10 million supporters of the Robertsons have aligned themselves through social media. In doing so the network caused the sons of Phil Robertson, to step forward and demonstrate true moral courage, honor their father, their faith, and their God, and announce to the watching world that they all might put themselves on permanent hiatus from A&E.
The management of A&E thought their decision through so poorly and in such a rushed manner they didn't even attempt the math. In America there are all of possibly 9 million people who actively engage in homosexual behavior and lifestyles. Duck Dynasty turned out more than that for just one season premiere. So why cave to activists who don't even represent all of that 9 million's interest? Why especially when tens of millions of faithful viewers revived your fledgling pathetic little network simply because they love this warm-hearted, caring, loving, and funny Bible thumping family?
A&E, you plucked with the wrong people!