Source: Networks upset with A&E for 'caving' on Phil Robertson, 'Duck Dynasty'
By Hollie McKay
"Several high-ranking executives have expressed upset over the way this all played out. The network execs think that in allowing Phil to come back so quickly and seamlessly, without apology, sets a bad standard,” the source told FOX411. “The standard being that talent can say whatever offensive thing they want about gay people or other groups and get away with it. No consequences.”
A devout Christian, Robertson ignited a firestorm when asked by the men's magazine what he considered to be sinful, and responded: “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.”
We’re also told that power players at both ABC and CBS are annoyed – and were quite frankly “shocked” – that the Robertson family patriarch was suspended for just a week and welcomed back so warmly.
"It's all about money. I guess many feel that A&E should have taken a stronger stand,” added the source. “Where do moral standards go from here? Does this now mean stars can say whatever offensive things they want under the guise of freedom of speech, without repercussion?”
One industry pro says things could have been far worse for the cable channel if A&E had not backed down and brought Robertson back.
“At the end of the day, entertainment is big business and clearly A&E decided that ‘this too shall pass.’ Sometimes avoiding the major news as would have occurred has they fired him would have been more damaging to their brand then simply having Robertson continue on,” noted Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR. “Not all press is good press.”
Despite the flap, the highly-anticipated season five of “Duck Dynasty” returned Wednesday night with family leader Phil in full glory – and camouflage.
CBS declined to comment. ABC and A&E did not respond to a request for comment.
Follow @holliesmckay on Twitter.