TLC appears to be leaning closer to making a decision on how to handle 19 Kids and Counting amid Josh Duggar's child molestation scandal.
The network stopped airing the show on Friday, May 22, and now, they are considering dropping the eldest Duggar son from the docu-series. They don't believe the move will hurt the show, as the Duggar daughters seem to be the real draw -- TLC's research has shown that Jill and Jessa's weddings and the birth of Jill's first child are what brought in the big ratings, according to TMZ.
There is still a chance that 19 Kids and Counting will be cancelled outright -- especially if big advertisers continue to pull out, as General Mills already has -- but the reality show is such a juggernaut for the network that they will most likely look for a middle ground. If the show continues on, the real question will be how they handle the scandal (and Josh's disappearance from the series) on air.
Josh is already trying to remove himself from the public eye. The married 27-year-old cancelled a scheduled appearance next weekend at a Christian home schooling convention, E! reports. "While we could fret or argue over what is truth and what is gossip in
the recent media reports, we would rather change the focus for a moment
to what God has in store for the families that will be arriving on
Thursday for Teach Them Diligently in Sandusky, OH," the program wrote in a public letter.
It's hard to believe that TLC wasn't aware of Josh's history before now. In 2006, The Oprah Winfrey Show cancelled a scheduled appearance by the Duggars after receiving an email tip about Josh's indiscretions. That letter was reported to the Department of Human Services, which led to an investigation by Springdale, Arkansas, police in December 2006.
Josh's parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, however, knew about their son's situation far earlier than that. In 2002, a then 14-year-old Josh told his parents that he had inappropriately touched a girl, also a minor, and was allegedly sent for counseling in 2003. He was since been accused of inappropriate actions with five girls total during his teenage years, all minors and some reportedly his sisters.
Mama June Shannon is convinced that TLC did know about Josh's indiscretions and covered them up, because that's what she says the network did with her oldest daughter Anna Cardwell. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was cancelled by TLC last October following reports that Mama June was dating convicted child molester Mark McDaniel, who had sexually abused Anna when she was eight.
Last week, Josh directly addressed the claims in an official statement on his family's Facebook page. "Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends," he wrote. "I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life."
Since the news broke, the father-of-three has resigned from his job at the Family Research Council. His 26-year-old wife Anna, currently pregnant with their fourth child, has remained supportive of her husband, who had told her about his past indiscretions when they began dating. However, the couple's official website was taken down today.