A&E has wisely cancelled “Escaping the KKK,” previously known as “Generation KKK” (or maybe kickin it with the KKK) not because it was offensive and a stupid idea but because it came to their attention that some of the participants were paid, they say, by third party producers. It’s hard to describe how far A&E has fallen over the years. Remember how great the A&E Biography series was with Bill Kurtis. But the network has fallen prey to the reality TV syndrome. Listen, we don’t want to see how the KKK or neo-Nazi’s live, TV producers. We want to see them being expunged. Period.
Here’s the A&E statement:
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.