The media response cycle to controversies or "controversies" has become so predictable, it’s dang-near rote. It starts when a sports star or celebrity says something controversial, followed by news networks blowing the whole thing out of proportion to drum up ratings, then canned responses from commentators on the left and right, some finger-wagging by the celebrity’s employer, a publicist’s note of attrition signed by the offender, and we all move on.

The media response cycle to controversies or "controversies" has become so predictable, it’s dang-near rote. It starts when a sports star or celebrity says something controversial, followed by news networks blowing the whole thing out of proportion to drum up ratings, then canned responses from commentators on the left and right, some finger-wagging by the celebrity’s employer, a publicist’s note of attrition signed by the offender, and we all move on.


But in the wake of "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson’s comments to GQ about gays, it seems A&E got so caught up in the playbook that they out-kicked their coverage, so to speak.


I’ve never watched the show, but it’s easy to understand its appeal. Hollywood is run by people in Los Angeles and New York who, generally speaking, are more liberal than the average American. Not surprisingly, they make movies and TV shows starring progressive characters who live in Los Angeles and New York.


So when a program like "Duck Dynasty" comes along that showcases the flyover states and the conservatives who reside there, it makes sense that the people who live in those states would tune in. And tune in they have. The show’s ratings increased exponentially during its first three seasons, topping out in August as the most-watched cable show ever.


In other words, a television executive’s dream.


Which is why the network’s response to Robertson promoting the Bible’s take on homosexuality makes no sense. A&E suspended the 67-year-old from the show after he called gays sinners.


Whether you’re among those who share Robertson’s views or among those who would condemn him isn’t germane; everyone’s entitled to an opinion (except, it would appear, the man himself). But the move by A&E, straight out of the celebrity controversy playbook, is a business error of Goliath proportions.


The people who flock to "Duck Dynasty" every Wednesday night are, by and large, people who identify with the Robertsons’ average American-ness — they’re people who skew conservative and Christian. In suspending Robertson to appease the MSNBCs of the world, A&E risks alienating the millions of viewers whom advertisers pay out the nose to reach during the show’s commercial breaks.


It shouldn’t matter if the TV execs considered Robertson’s remarks offensive, and even less so if the 24-hour news outlets had a problem. Robertson was espousing a view congruent with the views of his audience, which means the network gains literally nothing by its reaction, while self-inflicting damage to its most valuable asset.


It’s PC stupidity in its highest — or at least most expensive — form. So quick was the network’s self-righteous rush to scold, they may well have killed the duck that was laying golden eggs.


NATE STRAUCH is a reporter with the Herald Democrat. Email him at nstrauch@ heralddemocrat.com.