- (Photo: Courtesy of A&E and Howard Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Executives at several TV networks, including ABC and CBS, are said to be "upset" over A&E "caving in" to "Duck Dynasty" supporters and reinstating Phil Robertson to the show, after it had earlier suspended him for comments he made about homosexuality in GQ magazine.
"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," an unnamed insider shared with 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."
Robertson labeled homosexuality a sin, telling GQ for its January edition, "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers - they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."
He added, "We never, ever judge someone on who's going to heaven, hell. That's the Almighty's job. We just love 'em, give 'em the good news about Jesus – whether they're homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort 'em out later, you see what I'm saying?"
Also using explicit language, he said: "It seems 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."
The "Duck Dynasty" patriarch was criticized for those remarks by several gay rights organizations, including GLAAD, which called on A&E to "indefinitely suspend" the reality TV star, with the network claiming that it has always supported and championed the LGBT community.
The suspension led to calls for a boycott and online campaigns from conservative Christians and "Duck Dynasty" fans, who insisted that Robertson had the right to express his views. A number of conservative politicians and commentators spoke out in defense of Robertson, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Alaska and Arkansas governors Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell D. Moore called the suspension "censorious cultural fundamentalism."
"… I hardly think silencing him can be called open-minded. In fact, it's the sort of censorious cultural fundamentalism that is neither 'progressive' nor 'pluralistic,'" Moore wrote on his website.
Following the outcry, A&E announced that it was reinstating Robertson to the show on Dec. 27. While members of the Robertson family, who stood by their patriarch in the controversy, said that they have smoothed things over with A&E, the FOX411 source claimed that other networks have been "shocked" that Robertson remained suspended for only a week.
"It's all about money. I guess many feel that A&E should have taken a stronger stand," the insider shared. "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?"
In its statement explaining the reinstatement, A&E maintained that the show "resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family, a family that America has come to love."
"While Phil's comments made in the [GQ] 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 misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would 'never incite or encourage hate,'" the network said.
"Duck Dynasty" returned to air for its Season 5 premiere Wednesday night.