Taking part in a recent Reality Roundtable event hosted by The Hollywood Reporter, Deirdre Gurney weighed in on a controversy that rocked the hit series she produces.
Last year, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson made some Bible-based statements regarding homosexuality that some found offensive. As a result, A&E moved to suspend the Robertson family patriarch until backlash from outraged fans led to a reversal of that decision.
Gurney explained that the network’s push to kick Robertson off of the show had nothing to do with the role she plays within the series’ production company.
“I don’t think anyone expected it to be that kind of a reaction and get that much attention,” she noted; “so no one was prepared with what this really meant, what to say.”
She said the fact that the incident erupted during the Christmas season only compounded a difficult situation.
Gurney defended Robertson against accusations that his comments were evidence of his hatred for the gay community.
“I wanted to be able to speak and explain,” she said, noting the production team was “out of it” by the time A&E handed down its decision.
“I know Phil Robertson. I know his beliefs,” she confirmed. “I know how he treats a crew that has several gay people on it and people of different races and people from all different places.”
Gay panelist Tim Gunn asked her if she denied he made the comments, to which she responded, “He made them, but he doesn’t deny who he is.”
According to Gurney, Robertson wasn’t “saying anything about how people should be treated,” but merely expressing his values as a Christian.
She said she felt helpless to explain his side of the controversy until recently.
Robertson, she suggested, was likely “cornered into saying something that someone thinks is salacious or wants to make a headline out of.”
Gurney was not the only panelist critical of A&E’s swift decision. James Murray, the executive producer of MTV’s The Real World, stated the network “didn’t look down the road as to the wisest course of action.”
He concluded that, although it is a “fine line,” people should have a right to “believe something in their religion.”
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom