UPDATED with TLC statement, 12:23 PM: “Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of 19 Kids And Counting currently from the air. We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time,” the Discovery Communications network said in a statement just sent to the media. The network declined to elaborate as to whether this was a temporary situation.
PREVIOUSLY, 10:45 AM: TLC has yanked another of its reality series over child molestation allegations. This time it’s 19 Kids and Counting, which wrapped its latest season on Tuesday.
TLC has removed the series from its schedule for now, after Josh Duggar issued an apology on Facebook for “my wrongdoing” following press reports he had been investigated for allegedly fondling the breasts and genitals of underage girls, including some of his sisters, when he was a teenager. But the network’s decision to pull the show also seems to follow an outbreak of online discussion since yesterday as to why the network and parent company continued its lucrative relationship with the family despite years-long rumors about some impropriety, that appeared to have caused Oprah Winfrey to abruptly cancel a Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar interview on her syndicated show in 2006, as well as reports Honey Boo Boo’s mother was mulling some legal action against the network for yanking her reality series over renewed relationship with former boyfriend/convicted child molester while not pulling the plug on the Duggar show.
In marked contrast to TLC’s reaction, GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee today issued a ringing endorsement of the Duggar family, saying he and his wife “want to affirm our support for the Duggar family.” The Duggar parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar recently endorsed Huckabess’s White House bid.
“Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support,” Huckabee wrote on his Facebook page.
“Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable’,” Huckabee wrote, blasting the “blood-thirsty” media for turning a years-old situation into this week’s headlines:
“Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand — that being a minor means that one’s judgement is not mature,” Huckabee said. “Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed — not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims.”
On the flip side, former TLC star Mama June Shannon, had this to day today about the Duggar clan: “I read that the Duggar family said this happening with their son brought them closer to God and each other. So they’re saying it’s OK to have family touch time? Hell no,” she told TMZ, which broke the news, and said Mama June she was mulling legal action if TLC didn’t pull 19 Kids after canceling her reality series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo over a past child molestation situation:
It was just seven months ago that TLC managed to wipe some of the ick off its image caused by that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo child molester storyline with a record-setting rating for a super-wholesome 19 Kids And Counting Duggar family wedding episode. Late yesterday, the network had been “no comment”-ing press inquiries about the future of the latter series, when molestation allegations surfaced about one of its regulars.
Josh Duggar yesterday resigned from his position as executive director of the lobbying arm of Family Research Council and issued a statement saying he had “acted inexcusably” and was “deeply sorry” for “my wrongdoing” following reports he had been investigated for allegedly molesting several underage girls when he also was underage. In a statement posted on Facebook yesterday, Duggar, now 27, said that 12 years ago he “acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret” and that he “confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation.”
He added: “We spoke with the authorities, where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life.”
His statement was posted hours after In Touch magazine said it had obtained a redacted report from the Springdale Police Department in Arkansas, allegedly showing Josh’s father, Jim Bob, waited more than a year before taking his teenage son to Arkansas State Police over the allegations. Police did not see through an investigation.
In that same Facebook post, Duggar’s parents Jim Bob and Michelle said: “Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God.”
In October, a series-record average of 4.4 million people tuned in to see 19 Kids And Counting’s crazy-in-love virgins, Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard, get hitched — and perform their very first kiss and first fully sanctioned frontal hug. TLC was the No. 1 cable network of the night in total viewers and among all key women demos (3 rating with women 25-54 and women 18-49). The episode was the network’s most-viewed telecast in four years. The reality series’ most recent batch of episodes, Season 9A according to the network, but some insist it quacked more like Season 10, debuted in February and ended this past Tuesday. TLC has not yet announced whether it is picking up the reality series for another season.
Also in October, TLC pulled the plug on its reality series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo after reports that the tot’s mother again was seeing a former boyfriend convicted of child molestation. Another of Mama June’s daughters, 20-year-old Anna Cardwell (aka Chickadee), came forward saying she had been a victim of Mark McDaniel at age 8 (McDaniel got out of prison in March). TLC, which cut ties to the show after confirming details of June’s renewed relationship with McDaniel, offered counseling to Anna, issuing a statement saying, “Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority.”