A&E has officially cancelled “Escaping the KKK,” their controversial documentary series that was set to premiere in early 2017 to depict the lives of people looking to leave the hate group.
But it’s not because of all of the public backlash that it received – at least, not directly.
Variety reports the series was pulled after it was found that producers paid participants to encourage them to be a part of the series.
The network wrote a statement explaining that “cash payments — which we currently understand to be nominal — were made in the field to some participants in order to facilitate access” in a statement released on Christmas Eve.
“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.”
This decision comes after the network spent weeks backpedaling after an overwhelmingly negative reaction from the public when the series was first announced.
Many felt that it would be viewed as another attempt to normalize white supremacy in contemporary society. There were also concerns that there’s no need sympathize with white supremacists who have lived lives of hatred for pretty much anyone who wasn’t them. The name was even changed from “Generation KKK” to “Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America.”
However, the revelation that subjects – in this case, members of the most widely renowned hate group in America – were being paid was the last straw.
“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,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, in a statement.
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