'Duck Dynasty' Family Stands United
United we stand.
That's the defiant message from the Duck Dynasty clan today after the head of the family, Phil Robertson, was suspended from the show for making controversial remarks about gay people.
"We cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm," the family said in a joint statement. "We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty."
They also say, "We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right."
The controversy has exploded into America's living rooms. Sarah Palin said on Fox News, "A&E really screwed up on this one."
On CNN, Star Jones said, "This guy is acting like a redneck."
So far, the show's top sponsors are sticking with the program. Under Armour, the biggest sponsor, said Friday they don't agree with Robertson's comments but added, "We have no plans to change our current relationship."
Bobby Jindal, the Republican Governor of Louisiana, where the show is shot backed Robertson.
"It's stunning to me, after all those antics, that Miley Cyrus would still be on TV and Phil's the one getting kicked off," said Jindal.
And Sarah Palin again came to Robertson's defense on the Fox News channel, saying, "So many American families have spilled blood and treasure to guarantee Phil Robertson and everyone else's right to voice their personal opinions."
Although A&E has suspended Robertson from appearing on the show indefinitely, the cable network is now in Duck Dynasty overload. During Christmas week the network is running more than 35 hours of Duck Dynasty over four days.
An "I Stand With Phil" online petition has over 120,000 signatures. And a pro-Duck Dynasty Facebook page has nearly 1.4 million likes.
It's not just conservatives who are backing the Duck Dynasty star. So is Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, who said on The Daily Show, "I think what the guy said is ignorant. But I also bave an inclination to support a world where saying ignorant (blank) on television doesn't get you kicked off that medium."
But others are calling for his head.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski said, "What he said is disgusting. And he said a lot of other disgusting things too."
Piers Morgan said on his show, "I think he should be fired. I think it's absolutely repulsive."
Youtube has become a battleground for supporters and opponents of Robertson. One person posted a video saying, "Most people in the South are very friendly and don't share that belief."
While another person posted on YouTube, "Not one word of Phil's statement here was hateful. Not at all."
Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien both got laughs from the controversy. Leno joked, "Gay people are upset with him. They went on to criticize adulterers, drunks and swindlers, and now Congress is mad at him. So the guy just can't win."
O'Brien joked, "The head of A&E said, 'I am shocked that an old bearded duck hunter who lives with his kin folk in the Louisiana bayou did not have progressive views on gay people."
Robertson also touches on racial relations in his interview with GQ magazine. He says in pre-civil rights Louisiana, "I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say, were they happy? They were godly, they were happy, no one was singing the blues."
INSIDE EDITION spoke with crisis management expert Howard Bragman who said, "It's kind of a perfect storm of media interests. I think Phil will be back in the show. I think their statement was a negotiating ploy. But this is a tough moment and they're going to have to get through this. We're going to have to see some sort of apology from Duck Dynasty. We're going to have to see a reproachment from the network. But it's in everyone's interest. I think everyone wants the same result. That's why I think it will stay on and be resolved."