The controversial look into the lives of members of the Ku Klux Klan that was A&E’s “Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America” is no more. The cancellation decision was the result of findings that producers paid subjects to be a part of the show.
A series of exclusive interviews conducted by Variety may reveal that the payments made were for more than just access.
“We were betrayed by the producers and A&E,” said Richard Nichols, the Grand Dragon of a KKK cell known as the Tennessee White Knights of the Invisible Empire. “It was all made up—pretty much everything we said and did was fake and because that is what the film people told us to do and say.”
Nichols tells Variety that he and other subjects were paid as much as $600 a day and not only fed lines, but also entirely scripted fictional scenarios to act out and were actually provided with the supplies to hold multiple cross burnings.
“They kept asking me, wanting me, to use the word ‘nigger,’” said Nichols. “I was sitting down being filmed and interviewed with the lights and the backdrop set up, and I said something and used the word ‘blacks.’ Then the producer interrupted me and said ‘No, no, no. We want him to use the word “nigger!”’’
When the series first came under fire for potentially normalizing racism and white supremacy, A&E insisted that it was meant to educate viewers on the lifestyle from all perspectives, including its faults. But it appears that the footage that would’ve been released may have been compromised, which makes that point null and void.
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