A&E Realizes KKK Reality Show Is Probably A Bad Idea
A&E had come under fire recently after announcing that it would be airing a docuseries entitled Escaping the KKK, which sought to depict stories of people attempting to escape the organization. However, the network has apparently decided that airing this series is probably a bad idea — albeit not for the reasons you might think.
As it turns out, A&E deciding to cancel Escaping the KKK has nothing to do with the ethical questions surrounding the series, which many accused of normalizing hateful behavior by portraying some of the KKK members in a sympathetic light. Rather, A&E’s decision has to do with legal issues surrounding the revelation that participants in the documentary were paid to cooperate. This is in violation of A&E’s documentary policy.
“A&E learned last night from the third-party producers who made the documentary that cash payments — which we currently understand to be nominal — were made in the field to some participants in order to facilitate access,” A&E explained in a press release. “While we stand behind the intent of the series and the seriousness of the content, these payments are a direct violation of A&E’s policies and practices for a documentary.”
This not only violated A&E’s policies, it was also a violation of the commitments the network made to anti-hate organizations prior to filming.
“We had previously provided assurances to the public and to our core partners — including the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Chance — that no payment was made to hate group members, and we believed that to be the case at the time,” the statement continued. “Our goal with this series has always been to expose and combat racism and hatred in all its forms. Just because this particular show goes away, the issues of hate in America do not. We will still seek to fight hate in America through on-air programming including town halls and documentary programs produced in partnership with civil rights organizations, as well as continue to work with the civil rights community to facilitate a deeper dialogue on ending hate through comprehensive educational and outreach campaigns.”
All in all, this is probably for the best. Whether there was a story here worth telling or not, the vitriolic response to the notion of this program tells you all you need to know about audiences’ willingness to accept a show like this in the first place. As much as this was a legal issue with the funding, it’s a PR move too, since the network doesn’t want to be seen as having funded the KKK, even indirectly through third party payments. So I definitely get why they made the call to ax the show altogether.
But what do you think about A&E’s decision? Sound off in the comments!
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