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The Duggars’ appalling defense: blame others, minimize Josh’s behavior

The Duggars’ appalling defense: blame others, minimize Josh’s behavior
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar on Megyn Kelly's Fox News show.

During their Fox News interview, the Duggars worked hard to minimize their son Josh’s molestation of his sisters and another girl. But all you need to know about their horrific response is that they think the disclosure of Josh’s molestation is worse than his actual molestation. Michelle Duggar actually said this about her daughters:

“They’ve been victimized more by what happened in what has happened in these last couple weeks than they were 12 years ago.”

At the end of the interview, Megyn Kelly said she interviewed two Duggar daughters who were molested by Josh, and a clip shows them repeating the same idea and crying about Josh’s behavior being revealed to the world.

The Duggars minimize molestation

Earlier in the interview, Jim Bob said, “This was not rape or anything like that. This was, like, touching somebody over their clothes. There were a couple incidents where he touched them under their clothes, but it was, like, a few seconds.”

Jim Bob also offered a legal defense for their failure to report this to any kind of authorities: “As parents, you’re not mandatory reporters.” He said they sent Josh away to be with a friend instead of to counseling or another program because they thought “really reaching his heart first would be important.”

Jim Bob said “the first thing was to protect the girls” and Michelle said “it was so important to us as parents and talk to our girls and make sure nothing else had happened. … None of them were aware of Josh’s wrongdoings.” Jim Bob explained what they did: “We took a lot of steps. First we tried to deal with this in-house as parents. … We did the best we could under the circumstances. … We talked to him, we put all kinds of punishments on him, we watched him, like, all the time. … We thought, at first, that Josh was on the road to mend.”

Michelle said, “All of our children received professional counseling, including Josh, who paid for his own counseling himself.” Compare these claims to the reported facts.

Incredibly, besides saying that Josh’s molestation wasn’t as bad as other molestation they later learned about, Jim Bob basically praised his son: “The ray of hope was that Josh had came and told us, and his heart was still soft, because we wouldn’t have known about any of these things if he hadn’t came and told us.”

Duggars and Fox News’ Megyn Kelly shoot the messenger

Why did the family opt in to a reality show despite what happened? “All this been taken care of five years before. We had a clean bill of health from the state,” Jim Bob said. “We had no fear because everything was taken care of. That was a sealed juvenile record. And they had told us that all this stuff was done.”

It’s worth noting that Megyn Kelly asked some good questions, like the previous one, but most often framed her questions in a way that was skeptical not about the Duggars’ behavior, but about the reporting on it. The note to Oprah’s staff that finally resulted in authorities being called was characterized as information that “leaked.”

She characterized InTouch’s journalists’ work as problematic because, she said, they wrote about and published “an illegally released police report.” She later scolded that the police reports, “as juvenile records, were not subject to disclosure.”

Basically, it was about attacking the messenger. In one of the many unbeleivable things he said, Jim Bob actually insisted, “The big picture is protecting juveniles’ records. … We want to be advocate for protecting juvenile records.”

Yes, that’s the most important thing here.


Earlier: Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET. They’re on the show “to discuss the child molestation allegations against their son, Josh Duggar,” according to the network.

In a preview released by Fox News, Michelle says that when she learned about what happened,”There was so much grief in our hearts. I think as parents we felt we’re failures, you know? Here we tried to raise our kids to–to do what’s right and know what’s right. And yet, one of our children made really bad choices and I think as a parent we were just–we were devastated.”

The language that they’re using–dismissing Josh’s behavior as “really bad choices”–minimizes the reality. The preview does not say whether or not they discuss their own behavior, such as not doing anything about Josh’s molestation of his sisters.

It remains to be seen whether or not Megyn Kelly will softball the Duggars or ask them tough questions, as she sometimes does. However, she did say on-air that “this isn’t going to be a cross-examination of a family.”

I’ll update this story during or right after the show with any newsworthy information that emerges from the interview.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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