LOS ANGELES —
Although he didn't care for Robertson's comments he has a right to express his opinions, Schmidt said. He added that he's likely not the only one pleased about Robertson's return.
"A&E's pocketbook will be happy, too," Schmidt predicted.
Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council in Washington, wasn't among those calling for a boycott but said A&E could have suffered without its "about-face."
"We're seeing play out in front of us this great clash of cultures. Those in Hollywood don't quite understand the values that for many of these people — and I put myself in that category — our values and faith are non-negotiable," Perkins said.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who had said that Miley Cyrus got a pass for twerking on TV while Phil got shown the door, lauded A&E for putting tolerance for religious views above "political correctness."
Other shows have weathered their outspoken talent by simply bouncing them or not blocking their departure: Think Isaiah Washington on "Grey's Anatomy," fired in 2007 for referring to one of his show's gay actors with a pejorative, or Alec Baldwin exiting his new MSNBC talk show after using gay slurs off the air.
But A&E found that easy road blocked for a reality show celebrity who was too real for some, just right for others.
Within a day of Robertson's removal, more than a half-million people liked an impromptu Facebook page demanding A&E be boycotted until he returns. A petition calling for A&E to bring him back reached 250,000 signatures and counting in about a week.
The controversy similarly ensnared the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain, which removed "Duck Dynasty"-related merchandise from its shelves and then reversed course and apologized after being hit with complaints.