UPDATED, 7:20 PM: “We are fine whether they film us or not,” Jim Bob Duggar told Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly tonight, in re their TLC series. The network pulled reruns of the series from its lineup May 22 after allegations surfaced that their oldest son had fondled children, including some of his sisters, in 2002-03. “We’re gonna go on and live life. We’re gonna serve God and make a difference in the world,” the family patriarch told Kelly.
“Either way, we’re at peace,” added wife, Michelle.
“Do you think the show will be canceled — has TLC given you any indication?” Kelly continued to probe. Jim Bob, once a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, gave a politician’s answer: “At this point, our family is trying to regroup from these attacks. And when you’re in every newspaper and everything throughout the world, I mean, it’s been an unprecedented attack on our family.” He maintained the police records were released illegally (In Touch magazine obtained the redacted records through the Freedom of Information Act).
“I wonder why all this press is not going after the system for releasing juvenile records. That is a huge story,” he said.
“In our hearts, we haven’t been keeping secrets — we have been protecting those that, honestly, should be protected,” Michelle said, adding, “Now what’s happened is that they’ve been victimized by people with an agenda for whatever profit they think they’re gonna get.”
PREVIOUSLY, 6:11 AM: “I reached out to them and made the case I was the best for the job,” Fox News’ Megyn Kelly says of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s decision to give her their first interview since In Touch broke the story that their now 27-year-old son Josh had, when a teen, allegedly fondled underage girls, including some of his sisters. Their reality series, 19 Kids And Counting had just wrapped its season; TLC pulled repeats off its lineup as sponsors lined up to say they would not advertise on the program.
“I specifically told their representative, ‘You know my reputation. I’ve never been accused of giving anyone a pass and I’m not going to give them a pass. If you want a soft place to fall, I’m not your person… I think it’s a service to you to have me ask tough questions’.”
On their website, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar say of the interview, “We will sit down with Megyn Kelly on Fox News to share our hearts with you about the pain that we walked through as a family twelve years ago, the tears we all shed and the forgiveness that was given. We appreciate the outpouring of love and prayers for our family at this time.”
Late last week the Fox News Channel primetime anchor landed tonight’s much-chased interview with the Duggar parents. Fox News will turn around the interview quickly to air in Kelly’s timeslot, 9 PM ET. The bulk of the interview, which will be conducted in their hometown in Arkansas, will air tonight, but FNC also has planned a one-hour Kelly File Special for Friday night.
News orgs had been chasing a Duggar interview since the Discovery Communications-owned network pulled repeats of its most popular series after In Touch published the since-destroyed police report showing their oldest son allegedly had fondled minor girls, first in July 2002 and again in March 2003.
TLC said it was “deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time,” as it took the hit series off the air for the time being.
The day the story broke, Josh Duggar resigned as executive director of FRC Action, the powerful conservative political action committee of the Family Research Council, and issued a statement on Facebook saying 12 years ago he had “acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” and that he years ago had “confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation.”
His parents, meanwhile, posted a Facebook statement saying, “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.”
Josh’s statement was posted hours after In Touch published its report allegedly showing Jim Bob waited more than a year before taking his son to Arkansas police over the allegations. The investigation was never pursued fully, and the statute of limitations had run out.
“I think this is the Duggars’ effort to try to get out from under that pressure cooker,” Kelly said of tonight’s interview. “They very much understand their show and reputation are on the line.” But, she said, the Duggars also believe the show “has a chance still. It’s not totally done.”
“I think they knew they needed to speak to somebody and get their story out,” Kelly added — their story being that the information about their son and daughters was “released without their consent.”
To that end, Kelly says she’s particularly interested to learn more about the police chief who gave the redacted report to In Touch.
“It’s a little suspicious how it went down,” Kelly said adding, “Very clearly she had no business releasing” the police report.
(Arkansas state Sen. Bart Hester (R) would appear to agree, having recently told a local radio station he believes Springdale Police Chief Kathy O’Kelly compromised the identities of Josh’s Duggar’s alleged victims when she released the police report to In Touch. Hester said he anticipated criminal charges being brought against O’Kelly, who is set to retire at the end of this month.
But the mayor, Doug Sprouse, told the radio station O’Kelly had consulted with Springdale’s city attorney when the publication set out to get the report via a Freedom of Information Act. According to Sprouse, O’Kelly consulted with the city attorney, concluding together that the police report had to be released in accordance with the law.)
Kelly ‘s interview will air on her show, The Kelly File tonight at 9 PM ET. Additionally, her sit-down with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar will be turned into a one-hour Kelly File Special set for Friday.
In the Friday special Kelly File, Kelly will consult with experts in that special, she said. Among her questions, she says she will ask what are the stats on recidivism for a 14-year-old sex offender who gets sent away to some rehab program (Michelle Duggar told police Josh was sent to a family friend) in situations where the victims says it never happened again. “Is that person a child molester as we now understand that term, and what are the odds they will continue offending?” Kelly said, adding, “There are stats on this.”
She also intends to ask the Duggars why they wanted to be reality TV stars, particularly given what they’d been through with Josh and daughters prior to the launch of their TLC series in September 2008. “‘Were you nervous about that?’ I want to ask them if they lived in fear,” she said.
Here is Kelly discussing the Duggars with FNC’s Howard Kurtz this week:
Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.