This past week the outrage machinery zeroed in on Fox News host Tucker Carlson for comments he made on a shock-jock radio show a decade or so ago. Once dredged up by the junior-varsity Stasi at Media Matters, these comments were alleged to have offended someone or another.
So far, to his credit, Carlson has held his ground, and so has Fox News. For inspiration, if Carlson had turned to “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson I would not be surprised. Robertson and family pioneered the science of spinal infusion for a Republican Party genetically deficient in backbone.
In October 2013, Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” clan and a co-star of the most successful reality-TV show in the history of cable television, agreed to sit for an interview with Drew Magary writing for GQ magazine.
“Hey, what does GQ stand for?” asked Robertson at the beginning of the interview, a question that quickly established the cultural divide between them.
The story Robertson told Magary was compelling. A good ol’ boy from backwoods Louisiana, Robertson gave up his quarterback slot at Louisiana Tech – a guy named Terry Bradshaw took over – because quarterbacking interfered with duck hunting.
This being the ’60s, and Robertson being just another “immoral man,” he yielded to the siren song of the “sinful revolution” before turning his life over to Jesus. That turn saved his marriage and started him on a wildly improbable road to entrepreneurial success making duck calls.
As part of their deal with A&E, the Arts and Entertainment channel, Robertson insisted that the network acknowledge and respect the family’s faith.
A&E said they wanted a show about family values, Robertson claimed, and “the best family values come about when God is involved.” A&E obliged, and the show succeeded beyond anyone’s best projections.
“The Robertsons are immensely likable. They’re funny. They look cool,” said Magary of Phil and his many kin. Their style and their faith, he noted, made them “ideal Christian icons: beloved for staking out a bit of holy ground within the mostly secular, often downright sinful, pop culture of America.”
For all his professed fondness for the Robertsons, Magary tried his best to subvert them. His first question to Phil – “Do you think homosexual behavior is a sin?” – was precisely calculated to do just that.
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” said Phil. “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
As to his personal take on the homosexual act, Robertson did his best to avoid common vulgarisms, but that somehow made his explanation all the more memorable.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina – as a man – would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” said Phil artlessly. “That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes!”
When the interview leaked out in December 2013, the response was painfully predictable. First came the deranged headlines. TMZ may have captured the derangement best, “Phil From ‘Duck Dynasty’ Rips Homosexuals … Man Ass Can’t Compare To Vagina.”
Then came the denunciations and implicit threats from the various gay-rights groups. “Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families,” GLAAD’s Wilson Cruz of the Gay told Variety.
A mere four hours after Variety reported Robertson’s remarks and GLAAD’s threat, it was reporting the capitulation of A+E Networks, the parent company of A&E.
To much media acclaim, the network put the show on indefinite hiatus. “His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community,” said a spokesman.
Two days later, Cracker Barrel, the Southern country store and restaurant chain whose executives obviously had no clue about its customers, announced it was pulling “Duck Dynasty” products from its shelves.
Cracker Barrel rolled first. Less than 48 hours after saying it had removed selected “Duck Dynasty” items that “might offend some of our guests,” its executives made a groveling apology to its customers. “Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done,” the company wrote. “You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened.”
A&E was not far behind. More than 250,000 fans signed a petition demanding Robertson’s reinstatement. And, most critically, the Robertsons stood their ground. They told the suits at A&E they could suspend Phil if they liked, but without their patriarch, there would be no show at all.
On Dec. 27, nine days after suspending Robertson, a doubly humiliated A&E lifted the suspension. “It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family,” said an A+E spokesman.
Almost uniquely among those defamed by the left, Robertson understood the nature of the religious war being waged. The struggle was not between left and right in any political sense. It was a struggle between the politically correct and the “biblically correct,” between the “new man” of the progressive imagination and the “new creation in Christ” Robertson had become.
Robertson did not fear the enemy. In fact, he did not fear sinners at all. “We’re all sinners,” he readily conceded. “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell,” he told Magary.
“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?”
Amen to that!