A&E won’t be replacing Duck Dynasty with a show about the Ku Klux Klan after all, the network announced over the Christmas weekend.
They’ve called time on the controversial “documentary series” Generation KKK (or Escaping the KKK, as it was renamed just Friday) after finding out that the show’s producers paid “nominal cash payments” to high-ranking members of the Klan for access to its members and events.
The show had already met with push-back from social media and from prominent civil rights activists who criticized A&E with normalizing racism by giving its viewers and inside look at the everyday lives of the country’s actual racists. A&E contended that its “timely” investigation into the modern KKK was a way to “shine a light” on bigotry that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
But now, political opinions aside, A&E says it can’t air the show because, in trying to document the hate group, the show’s producers intentionally funded it.
“Our goal with this series has always been to expose and combat racism and hatred in all its forms,” A&E‘s statement read. “However, 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 says it still stands behind the intent of the series, but that the “cash payments” violated both company policies and the network’s agreements with the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change, which assured both civil rights groups that A&E would not provide the Klan with any material support.
A&E has since wiped its social media and website clean of any mention of Generation KKK, including a 7-minute video clip of the show’s premiere episode.
Twitter users who threatened to boycott A&E took credit for getting the show cancelled, though there’s no indication their actions had nearly as much impact as the producers’ payoff problem.
Generation KKK cancelled by A&E after our call for a boycott. Never lose the ability to be offended. Fight white supremacy everywhere.
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) December 25, 2016
— Solomon Jones (@solomonjones1) December 26, 2016
A&E’s excuse for canceling Generation KKK: incompetence or a lie? https://t.co/yTLCxBXWp3
— Andy Dehnart (@realityblurred) December 26, 2016
The show’s producers say they will try to find Generation KKK a slot on another network.