The A&E network has pulled the plug on its controversial Ku Klux Klan show, Escaping the KKK, a docuseries that was going to follow people attempting to extricate themselves from the KKK. Although the series received massive criticism, it was canceled only because the network discovered that participants were paid, a violation of the network's policies.
The network stated 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.”
In response to the cancellation, ColorOfChange.org issued a statement:
“One of the many conditions for Color Of Change’s involvement was that none of the on-air participants were being paid. It was the first commitment A&E made to us and we made it clear when we agreed to support content and marketing changes that we would withdraw if participants were paid. With this new information, canceling the show is the only acceptable decision.
On the eve of the inauguration of a president whose campaign was fueled by white supremacists, some of whom will work in his Administration, A&E has work to do to rebuild the damage caused, beyond town halls and PSAs. This is an opportunity to increase the diversity of creative talent, invest more deeply in narrative, content and stories that uplift communities that are often in the cross hairs of racist systems and structures, and center communities more broadly that are so often misrepresented and underrepresented by mainstream media."
A&E said the cancellation of the series doesn’t mean that it won’t seek other ways to expose and fight racism:
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.