A&E Cancels KKK Documentary Series
A&E is taking a different approach to their upcoming documentary series about the Ku Klux Klan after criticism of normalizing the hate group.
The New York Daily News reports the network changed the title series from “Generation KKK” to “Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America,” on Friday (Dec. 23). The network faced significant backlash after viewers claimed the network would soften the view of white supremacy. The network says the new title will show their focus of the series, which shows family members trying to break the generational cycle and the activists who are helping them. "The network is changing the name of the show to ensure that no one can mistake its intent and that the title alone does not serve to normalize the Klan," a statement from the network reads.
A&E also plans to work with Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on the documentary series, along with Color of Change. The series will include family testimonies as well as thoughts from civil rights leaders. USA Today reports the show will also feature more POV's from people of color to balance the series. “We are glad to have some of the country’s leading civil rights organizations, including the ADL, Color of Change and others as partners in this effort, and look forward to working together to impact hate in America," A&E executive vice president Rob Sharenow said in a statement. "We feel that this new title and enhanced partnerships, the in-show and after-show components and our outreach plan more broadly reflect the existing anti-hate content of the series and our longstanding intention. That goal is to expose and combat racism and hatred in all its forms and we appreciate the valuable feedback we have received.”
The documentary series will still premiere Jan. 10, 10 ET/PT.
Watch a preview below.
UPDATE: 12/24/16 5:00 P.M. EST
A&E has decided to cancel "Escaping the KKK" after discovering some of the show's participants were paid, violating the network's policy. A statement was provided to Variety on Saturday (Dec.24) after the network found out from producers Friday evening some participants were paid in an effort "facilitate access.”
“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," the statement reads. "We had previously provided assurances to the public and to our core partners – including the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change – that no payment was made to hate group members, and we believed that to be the case at the time. We have now decided not to move forward with airing this project.”
The network has been appealing to the public since announcing the documentary series last week. After social media had shown their disgust for the show (as well as a few members of Hollywood), the title was changed to demonstrate their focus on the families looking to leave the Ku Klux Klan and preventing their children from joining. A&E also reportedly had the earned the trust of groups members from the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and Black Lives Matter with plans to include more context and a social outreach project for viewers.
Check out the statement in full below.
The documentary ‘Escaping the KKK’ was intended to serve as a close look at anti-hate extractors focused on helping people leave the Ku Klux Klan—the racist hate group with a long history of violence against African Americans and others. Our goal with this series has always been to expose and combat racism and hatred in all its forms.
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. 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. We had previously provided assurances to the public and to our core partners – including the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change – that no payment was made to hate group members, and we believed that to be the case at the time. We have now decided not to move forward with airing this project.
A&E takes the authenticity of its documentary programming and the subject of racism, hatred and violence very seriously. 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.