A national uproar has erupted over the suspension of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson for making anti-gay slurs.
Everyone's buzzing about whether cable TV’s number one reality show can survive this crisis.
Fox News said, "The battle lines are drawn."
CNN said, "He is the star. You kill him, you pretty much don't have a show anymore."
Duck Dynasty, centered on a Louisiana family that manufactures duck calls, draws as many as 14 million viewers a week. Sixty-seven-year-old Phil Robertson’s book, Happy, Happy, Happy, debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and the family fortune is estimated at $80 million. Wednesday night, they even made Barbara Walter’s list of the most fascinating people of the year.
A self-proclaimed "Bible-thumper," Phil sparked the controversy with comments in the new GQ magazine: "Everything is blurred on what's right and what's wrong. Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Beastiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."
A&E, which airs the show, suspended Phil indefinitely, saying, "We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments."
The gay rights group GLAAD praised the decision: "A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value."
Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson is also expressing outrage, tweeting: “This Duck Dynasty guy exercised his freedom of speech. Grand! But that comes with me using my freedom of speech to call him an -------.”
Plenty of others are rallying around the Duck Dynasty family, including Sarah Palin, who posted a photo of herself with the Robertsons, saying, "Free speech is an endangered species. Those 'intolerants' hatin' and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us."
Meanwhile an “I Stand with Phil” online petition already has more than 18,000 signatures. A Facebook page called, "Boycott A&E Until Phil Robertson Is Put Back on Duck Dynasty" has more than 500,000 likes.
His suspension comes on the heels of two other high-profile TV departures. Alec Baldwin lost his MSNBC talk show for anti-gay slurs and Martin Bashir was forced out of MSNBC because of the uproar over his inappropriate comments about Sarah Palin.
The question now is whether Duck Dynasty can continue without the involvement of its leader.
Pop culture expert Cooper Lawrence told INSIDE EDITION, "It is going to be hard to shoot a show without Phil Robertson. He has really cast a shadow over everyone else, because now, we think, 'Hmm the sins of the father.'"