Andrew Sullivan: 'I’m Befuddled By the Firing of Phil Robertson'

Liberals have been predictably up in arms over anti-gay comments by Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and thrilled about his termination.

Rather shockingly you can't count Andrew Sullivan amongst them, for he took to his Daily Dish blog Thursday to proclaim, "I’m befuddled":

I have to say I’m befuddled by the firing of Phil Robertson, he of the amazing paterfamilias beard on Duck Dynasty (which I mainly see via The Soup). A&E has a reality show that depends on the hoariest stereotypes – and yet features hilariously captivating human beings – located in the deep South. It’s a show riddled with humor and charm and redneck silliness. The point of it, so far as I can tell, is a kind of celebration of a culture where duck hunting is the primary religion, but where fundamentalist Christianity is also completely pervasive. (Too pervasive for the producers, apparently, because they edited out the saying of grace to make it non-denominational and actually edited in fake beeps to make it seem like the bearded clan swore a lot, even though they don’t.)

Now I seriously don’t know what A&E were expecting when the patriarch Phil Robertson was interviewed by GQ. But surely the same set of expectations that one might have of an ostensibly liberal host of a political show would not be extended to someone whose political incorrectness was the whole point of his stardom. He’s a reality show character, for Pete’s sake. Not an A&E spokesman.


Readers are reminded that when liberal actor Alec Baldwin made homophobic comments twice this year, Sullivan was all over him for it.

Following Baldwin's most recent rant to a paparazzo, Sullivan called MSNBC a bunch of hypocrites for not disciplining the actor.

Of course, Baldwin was eventually terminated for his behavior.

So why come down on Baldwin and not Robertson?

Robertson is a character in a reality show. He’s not a spokesman for A&E any more than some soul-sucking social x-ray from the Real Housewives series is a spokeswoman for Bravo. Is he being fired for being out of character? Nah. He’s being fired for staying in character – a character A&E have nurtured and promoted and benefited from. Turning around and demanding a Duck Dynasty star suddenly become the equivalent of a Rachel Maddow guest is preposterous and unfair.

What Phil Robertson has given A&E is a dose of redneck reality. Why on earth would they fire him for giving some more?

Fascinating.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.