The Duggar parents' big interview backfired if they had planned on defending their actions.
For the first time since their oldest son Josh admitted to molesting young girls, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar spoke out about that time in their family's lives, and how the news cycle has impacted them. Fox News' Megyn Kelly sat down with the 19 Kids and Counting stars Wednesday, asking about what it was like when they learned what their son had done to five young girls, two of them, his sisters.
During the one-our interview Kelly questioned the couple for more information - an attempt at a slightly more heated interview than simply allowing the two to share their side of the story, though questions often went more or less unanswered. The conversation rarely veered far from defending Josh, and calling out tabloids and the media for their hand in publicizing the information, with little to no attention placed on the actual victims.
"Twelve years ago, we went through one of the most darkest [sic] times that our family's ever gone through," said Jim Bob, explaining that a 14-year-old Josh Duggar, now 27, came to his parents to confess what he had done.
"We were shocked," said Michelle. "I don't think any parent is prepared for any trauma like that....As parents we felt, we're failures."
Here are a few of the lowlights from the interview:
When they tried to defend handling the situation on their own...
The couple vaguely revealed that it wasn't until "after some other things happened" that they first shared with the two of their daughters — now revealed to be Jill and Jessa — what their brother had done while they were asleep. They clarified that any of the touching that Josh had done was above clothing, and only while the girls were asleep, in an effort to lessen the gravity of the situation.
They had tried to deal with their son's behavior "in house," Jim Bob said, and later added, "As parents, we are not mandatory reporters."
Their "best" efforts included putting "safeguards" in place in their home, with constant vigilance over Josh's actions, speaking with close family friends, and finally sending him to a Christian-based training center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
"He broke," at that training center, Jim Bob explained. "He went and asked God to forgive him, and he went and asked those he had offended to forgive him," and the last place the Duggars went to report his actions was to the police, as one such incident involved "a very young daughter," whom the interview did not name or give her age at the time.
...and said they were "terrified" after finally going to police.
"We felt like the last step was to make things right with the law because he had broken the law," he said. Josh was taken to Arkansas state police where he confessed to what he did, though no charges were ever brought. "We felt like it was an important step for Josh to confess to the police," said Jim Bob. "It was very terrifying," not knowing if Josh or the family would be investigated.
"And now we were waiting to hear, were they going to come serve a warrant? Take him away," added Michelle. "We didn't know what they were going to do."
When they (sort of) explained protecting their daughters
The Duggars tried to explain the challenge of protecting their daughters as well as their son - a bit of a Sophie's Choice, Kelly said. Michelle answered that the incident helped shape how they looked after their daughters in later years, including not letting boys babysit, and not letting the younger children "sit on big boys' laps...unless it's your daddy."
"We were trying to do the best that we knew how to protect [Josh]," she said, cracking with emotion, "and protect [our daughters]."
"The ray of hope was that Josh came and told us, and his heart was still soft," said Jim Bob, once again switching the subject back to his son. "The truth is that kids will make their own choices...even though you've taught them right and wrong."
Clearly, the Duggar patriarch had a hard time expressing his feelings as the father of victimized daughters — as Kelly had originally posed the question — rather than the father of his son.
When they said that had no hesitation starting a reality show
Knowing that they had this past to protect, Jim Bob said that they still wanted to do the TLC series and "had no fear, because everything was taken care of," and was locked in a sealed juvenile record.
The couple then flipped the script and began to paint themselves as victims. They suggested that the release of that record, and what Josh had done, could be a targeted action by people who have either a vendetta against the family or a profit to earn, and said that they are currently speaking with attorneys about possible legal action, given the illegal nature of the police report's release.
"The big picture is for protecting juvenile records," said Jim Bob, noting that his daughters were shocked to hear what had happened when the details were revealed to them. "Every victim should have the right to tell their own story, not a tabloid."
When Michelle side-stepped a question about accusing the trans community
Kelly later called out Michelle Duggar's robocall against the transgender community, essentially accusing trans people of being pedophiles and a therefore a threat to children. Instead of focusing on the specific group of people concerned, and the question of how she could call out an entire community of people, knowing what her son had done, Michelle made the broad statement that "protecting young girls and not allowing young men and men in general to go into a girls' locker room is just common sense."
Jim Bob was quick to jump in and clarify that at the time of his actions, Josh Duggar was not a pedophile, but rather "he was a child preying on a child," he said.
When they accused the media of "unprecedented" attacks
"I know that everyone of us has done things wrong," Michelle said. "I feel like this is more about there's an agenda and there's people that are purposing [sic] to try to bring things out and twisting them to hurt and slander."
"It's been an unprecedented attack on our family," said Jim Bob, calling out the media and tabloids for focusing on Josh's actions rather than the illegal nature of obtaining information, and wondering why the press is not going after those who leaked the police report.
Despite putting their family in the spotlight, the two insist that the media is to blame for violating their daughters' — the victims' — trust. "That breaks my heart for my girls," said Michelle. "They've been victimized more by what happened in the past few weeks than they were 12 years ago."Oddly enough, it turns out that Jill and Jessa Duggar also sat down with Kelly, for an interview that will air Friday at 9/8c on Fox News.
And on the future of their reality show?
TLC has yet to officially cancel the family's series, though both the network and Hulu have yanked all of the episodes from their slate. The two briefly touched on being in limbo with their series, seemingly fine with whatever outcome may happen. "I don't know if the rest of our family should be punished for the act of one of our children that happened 12 years ago," said Jim Bob. "We're fine if they film us or not."
Did you watch the Duggars' interview? What do you think of their side of the story?