TLC pulls '19 Kids and Counting'; Mike Huckabee pledges support for Duggars

by Kimberly Pennington, National Correspondent |

ATLANTA (Christian examiner) -- In "An Official Statement About 19 Kids and Counting" posting on its website, TLC announced today the network was  "deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation" and said its "thoughts and prayers are with the family and the victims at this difficult time."

With the statement TLC "effective immediately" pulled all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting currently from the air.

Josh Duggar, speaking as the Executive Director of the Family Research Council Action, at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa August 9, 2014, stepped down from FRC May 21, 2015 amidst allegations he molested five underage girls when he was a teen, 12 years ago. He admitted he "acted inecusably." | REUTERS/Brian Frank/FILE PHOTO

The move comes in the wake of reality TV star Josh Duggar's admission to sexual misconduct with underage girls 12 years ago when he was 14 years old.

The network received complaints for continuing to air episodes of the program on May 21 after the allegations against the eldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were made public earlier in the day.

The family is not without supporters however.

Potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a personal friend of the Duggar family, issued a statement of support on his Facebook page which reads in part:

"Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh's actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn't mean 'unforgivable.' He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities," Huckabee said. "No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story."

Huckabee continued to express reasons for why he stands by Josh Duggar and the family, noting the legal protection of minors and the "blood-thirsty media."

"Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things," Huckabee said. 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 went on to commend Josh for overcoming his past and living as a responsible adult -– something Huckabee believes is a testimony to the family's authenticity. The former Arkansas governor also accused those seeking to discredit the family by disclosures from their past of being insensitive to the victims.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, holding his grandson Chandler, formally launches his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during an event in Hope, Arkansas May 5, 2015. With Huckabee is his wife Janet, holding granddaughter Scarlett. | REUTERS/Mike Stone

"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," he said.

Huckabee, a former pastor who still identifies with the Southern Baptist Convention, vowed to continue offering love and support to the family and does not disregard their Christian testimony based on these revelations.

"Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection. It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God's love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up," he said.

The show's cancellation by TLC is consistent with action taken by the network in 2014 when it canceled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo one day after allegations surfaced that family matriarch June Shannon was in a relationship with a convicted child molester.

Past episodes of 19 Kids and Counting remain on the network's internet site.


Josh Duggar quits Family Research Council after sex abuse scandal emerges; admits acting 'inexcusably'