The Duggar family is reportedly pitching a new show to the TLC Network about providing Christian counseling to victims of childhood sexual abuse.
According to Michael Stone at the Progressive Secular Humanist blog, the 19 Kids and Counting family is trying to create a spin-off show that will capitalize on a one-hour TLC special coming on Aug. 30, titled Breaking the Silence.
TLC said that Breaking the Silence is an attempt by the network to shed light on the issue of child sex abuse and that it will feature appearances by members of the Duggar clan. The special is set to run commercial-free.
"Over these past weeks, TLC has consulted regularly with leading victims' rights and advocacy organizations in the U.S., including RAINN and Darkness to Light, to discuss how to use this moment to address the issue and make a positive impact," said a statement from the network. "Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is not an isolated issue; it affects many children and families around the world. To that end, we are partnering with both organizations on a multi-platform campaign to raise awareness and educate parents and families about the issue. In the first phase of this initiative, TLC will work closely with both groups and with the Duggar family on a one-hour documentary that will include Jill and Jessa and other survivors and families that have been affected by abuse."
TLC canceled 19 Kids and Counting in spite of its high ratings after it came to light that the Duggars' eldest son Josh had molested his sisters and another girl as a teen. The family turned to family friend Joseph Hutchens of the Arkansas State Patrol, who never brought Josh up on formal charges. That officer was later arrested himself for possession of child pornography.
Josh was briefly handed over to the care of pastor Bill Gothard, who let Josh work construction on his new ministry as a form of Christian counseling. By Gothard's reckoning, the "godly" work put the eldest Duggar son back on the right path and "gave him a whole new respect for the young ladies."
This mishandling of the abuse and the family's attempts to hide it from the public were more than TLC was willing to countenance and the network wisely canceled the show.
A source close to the Duggars told Star magazine that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are desperate to keep some form of reality TV revenue coming in to support their outsized brood.
“The family can’t afford to not have the show -- it is their main source of income, and with a family of that size, without it they’re in enormous trouble,” said the family friend. “They know they have to at least pretend to be sorry about what happened, and now they want a spin-off where Jim Bob and Michelle would give advice to abuse victims—even though they’re in denial about their culpability in Josh’s crimes.”
Earlier this summer, the couple did a disastrous interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly, which was widely panned by viewers, who felt that the family were still enabling their sexual predator son.
“After the Megyn Kelly interview, when they basically made excuses for Josh, they’re done,” said Star's source. “It was a disastrous move that ruined their brand. It would take a miracle to get them back on TV.”
Breaking the Silence will air at 10 p.m. on Aug. 30 on TLC.
Watch the Megyn Kelly interview, broadcast June 03, 2015, below:
[Ed. note: An earlier draft inadvertently omitted the Duggar family's dealings with disgraced Arkansas State Trooper Joseph Hutchens]