Escaping the KKK has been canceled but the controversy behind the show continues to linger. As expected, outraged Americans were offended by A&E’s decision to even consider bringing the show to fruition, but apparently, they aren’t the only ones upset. According to Variety, members of the KKK are also displeased with the network. But, why?
It has been reported that the network made efforts to fabricate facts about the organization to make it more attractive for television. Several members of the KKK have come forward with details about the payments they received.
In an exclusive interview with Variety, the participating KKK leaders claim A&E’s partnering production company, Venice, CA-based This Is Just a Test (TIJAT), paid them to partake in “pre-scripted fictional story scenarios; instructed what to say on camera; asked to misrepresent their actual identities, motivations and relationships with others, and re-enacted camera shoots repeatedly until the production team was satisfied.”
However, that’s not all. The insiders included Richard Nichols, who was featured in the documentary series as the Grand Dragon of a KKK cell referred to as the Tennessee White Knights of the Invisible Empire. Nichols revealed how the production team also spent money to stage scenes by purchasing construction materials to build and demolish wooden crosses and Nazi swastikas.
In addition to staging the disturbing scenes, A&E has also been accused of encouraging KKK leaders to use the N-word during interviews. Nichols shared his reaction to the producers’ actions and the network’s efforts to allegedly script the series.
“We were betrayed by the producers and A&E,” said Nichols. “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.”
According to Raw Story, the network has released a statement about the allegations, confirming several KKK members did receive cash payments. However, A&E claims the payments were made for a different reason than the organization members allege.
“Our goal with this series has always been to expose and combat racism and hatred in all its forms,” the network said in a statement. “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.”
The network also confirmed an internal investigation would be conducted to determine what actual occurred during the creative process of bring the series to frution. “A&E had already made the decision to cancel this documentary series based on recently discovered payment practices of the producers in the field and we are conducting a full independent investigation into the production.”
Since the docuseries was going to be tailored for television, there’s lots of speculation about whether or not any of the events would have shed light on factual occurrences regarding the private practices of the KKK. Many social media users believe the organization would have diluted its beliefs to disguise the organization’s deep-rooted, hate-filled past, while the network would have fought to do the exact opposite while embellishing pre-scripted scenarios. But, nevertheless, people still aren’t convinced the fabricated show means the KKK isn’t a racist organization.
Here are some of the tweets:
TIJAT has also responded to the allegations. “We take these allegations very seriously and in partnership with A&E we will be looking into them fully,” a portion of its statement read. “We have been told that participants in the series have received threats and coerced into speaking out against the authenticity of the show.”
The latest reports follow A&E’s abrupt decision to scrap the series last week. Do you believe A&E went to such lengths to bring the KKK series to fruition? Share your thoughts.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]