A&EMembers of the KKK raise a cross before setting it on fire in a scene from "Generation KKK."
The documentary, which was initially titled "Generation KKK," drew accusations of "normalizing" the white supremacist beliefs and lifestyle. The KKK and other white supremacist or white nationalist organizations have seen a surge in membership and activity because they endorsed the campaign of Donald Trump.
Yesterday (Dec. 25), the network said the 8-part series would be cancelled after the network learned that some of the subjects had been paid, a contradiction of A&E's policies.
The statement from the network said:
"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."Producers and A&E claim the series 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," A&E said in a statement.
Last Friday, in an attempt to mollify critics by rebranding the series, network executives announced that the series would be changed to "Escaping From the KKK."
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.”
In defending the series, A&E's general manager Rob Sharenow insisted to The New York Times that the network "certainly didn't want the show to be seen as a platform for the views of the KKK."
The network also said it “will still seek to fight hate in America through on-air programming” and that it will “continue to work with the civil rights community” to end hate.