Megyn Kelly’s Duggars Interview: Good Questions, Sympathetically Asked

Megyn Kelly Duggars Interview
Courtesy of Fox

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar certainly picked the right venue for their first exclusive sit-down interview regarding the molestation scandal involving their son, Josh Duggar. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly devoted her entire program to the exclusive Wednesday – asking a lot of the right questions, albeit in the most sympathetic and gentle manner possible.

The story has already become politicized, with the stars of TLC’s “19 Kids & Counting” having entered the political arena by attaching their conservative Christian beliefs to public stands regarding gay marriage and abortion. That has yielded charges of hypocrisy, while the Duggars repeatedly retreated to the notion that there was an “agenda” at work on the part of those who released Josh’s juvenile records regarding molestation incidents that occurred more than a decade ago, when he was 14 and 15.

Although Kelly probed the Duggars about the chronology and their response to those events, she spent nearly as much time exploring their conflicted feelings. At one point, she headed into a commercial break by alluding to “the terrible choice these parents faced.” In addition, the host sounded at least as concerned about the breach of confidentiality, and whether the Duggars were “targeted” for their beliefs, as the particulars of what had happened inside the family’s home.

While it’s hardly a surprise in the cutthroat world of TV news, Kelly and Fox also appeared to be milking the story by teasing an interview with two of the Duggar sisters that Josh improperly touched, Jill and Jessa, during the final minute of her show. Kelly said that exchange will air on Friday.

Other cable networks were left playing catch-up. CNN devoted a panel to discussing Kelly’s interview in the subsequent hour, while MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell introduced his program with the swipe, “The Duggar family has a new defense lawyer: Megyn Kelly.”

At first blush, that might have sounded a bit harsh, since Kelly did pose the most obvious question – at least, in the context of the Duggars becoming famous – by asking somewhat incredulously: “What would make you launch a reality TV show about your family given this past?”

Still, there were few follow-ups to the Duggars’ answers, including the more perplexing ones. Just to extend the legal analogy, in fact, the reality stars were poor witnesses on their own behalf, alternating between painting themselves as victims, employing a legalistic rationale for their behavior and returning to their belief in Christian forgiveness and redemption. In the process, Jim Bob seemingly sought to diminish what transpired (“touching somebody over their clothes”) and rather vaguely referenced how many other families had experienced similar issues.

Even so, most viewers have likely already made their minds up about the Duggars, and presenting themselves as victims of those who harbor “an agenda” in the ongoing culture wars is certainly a common refrain on Fox News. Ultimately, if the couple’s PR team had any misgivings about how the hour went, that had little to do with Kelly, who can be a tough interviewer on some guests but was inordinately sympathetic here, toward the end saying, “I’m sure you’re going through hell right now.”

Charitably, one can conclude that Kelly felt obliged to let the Duggars deliver their responses, which were almost instantly being parsed and dissected elsewhere. “Thank you for telling our story,” Jim Bob said at the end of the interview. And that, come to think of it, without fear of cross-examination, is precisely what a good defense attorney does.

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  1. marilyn kennedy says:

    I keep mulling this whole thing over in my mind trying to figure out how I feel about it- One thing I think is that Josh cannot be labeled as a pedophile, unless there are degrees of pedophilia. I am an incest survivor, as are four nieces and one step niece-our perpetrator was a true pedophile- My brother, 12 years my senior started molesting me when I was 3 years old and believe me when I tell you that I remember-I don’t understand how anyone could ever forget such violations. I was his victim until I was 12 years old. He married and moved out of the home to begin his own family- As luck would have it, his first born was a girl and became his second victim, his second born, a girl as well and now he had two to victimize, which he did, until they were 12 and 14 years of age- When they were 7 and 9 they told their mother what he was doing. By now I am 22 years old. My sister-in-law called me in distress and shared with me their allegations. She did not know whether to believe them or not- For the first time in my life I shared my secret- I told her she must believe them as he had done the same thing to me when I was growing up. My mother was visiting me at the time and wanted to know what sis in law wanted.I told her. She replied, oh she is just trying to make trouble for my brother- I then told my mother about what he had done to me. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do- she looked at me, made a little psst sound with her mouth,turned her back on me and walked away. The subject did not come up with her again for 30 years. My sister in law was going to report husband/brother to the police, but didn’t- I kick myself still today for not taking the reins and going to the police myself. This is a regret I live with every day of my life. My sis in law did kick him out of the home, for a month I think- as soon as she realized the big paycheck was going to stop she took him back in.The dirty secret went back into its hole and stayed there for several years. When my youngest brother married and had his first child, a girl. I shared my story,along with that of our two nieces with him and his wife . I wanted to alert him so that he could make sure his baby daughter would never be around her uncle unsupervised. When another brother married and had his first daughter I warned him as well- Of course they did not like what they were hearing and chose to move into denial mode,where they stayed for so many years- Not sure they have crawled their way out yet-

    Long story short- pedophile brother and wife eventually divorce- the two nieces are now 13 and 15 and having major issues with their mother- she sends them to live in another state with grandmother(my mother). The pedophile is also living with mother- its all just so outrageous! Of course he begins going into their room at night and they wake up when he begins to fondle them. They report this to’ grandma” the next morning who tells them to put a coat hangar on the door and it will wake them up as he enters their bedroom.I didn’t know of this incident till many years later- I don’t have my timeline down, but at one time my brother remarried to a woman who had a little girl and a little boy- I forget where they were living but the little girl reported to her little school friend that step-daddy was putting his hands in her panties- her little friend told her mother who in turn contacted the school and he was reported to the authorities- he took the new wife and abused children and fled to another state(new wife knows he is molesting her little girl but she too looks the other way) new wife gets pregnant and guess what? She delivers a baby girl(my God will it never stop) During that time they all move to the state where the pedophiles mother lives and of course the new little girl is now his victim. While the new family is being started the two step-children who are being abused by the pedophile are sent to live with their mothers parents. The boy was 13 by then I think- I forget- what I don’t forget is that he took a gun and blew his brains out. He could no longer deal with the abuse he suffered at the hands of my brother. His sorry mother didn’t even attend his funeral. Considering what she had been through the sister is a survivor still today.By now little girl number two is born- I can’t take it anymore- I am 50 years old now and someone needs to put a stop to this. I meet with my mother to lay my cards all on the table in an effort to at least try to save this new little life. Essentially the conclusion my mother came to was that ‘I was not worth busting the family up over’. I told her I was under the impression that the family was already busted up since none of us who were his victims had anything to do with him. I explained to her that I was not doing this for myself or the others, but for this new little innocent child, that she may be the one to escape. There is nothing that could help any of the rest of us now. The damage had been done and we will live the rest of our lives in the shame and the degradation that never stops-NEVER goes away. I begged her to go to him and tell him that she knew what he had been doing-anything to try to save this innocent new little girl. My mother could not live with the shame. The shame she would feel if she acknowledged what she was being told and others found out was far more important to her than what the rest of us had been through and the new baby had facing her yet. I learned some lessons about my mother during this time- I never realized what a weak person she actually was- I loved her dearly and there was a time when I could not do enough for her, a time when I thought if anything were ever to happen to her I would surely die without her in my life. After her comment about” my not being worth busting up the family over” I started to see her in her true light.Each time I thought of her the little ticker tape in my head played over and over again, “you are not worth busting up the family over”. She was the only one who could hope to bring this to the surface- For the rest of us who were willing to step up and tell what he had done the Statue of Limitations had long since passed. I spoke to many District Attorneys trying to get something done- but without someone who was currently going through the abuse willing to lodge a complaint. NOTHING, absolutely nothing could be done to him- It is infuriating- My mother and I became estranged. The last five years of her life we had no communication. On her death bed her dying wish was to see me. I declined. I felt nothing for her. Just hearing that she wanted to see me started the ticker tape playing in my head all over again. I was born the only girl in a family of 7 boys. Everyone turned their back on me, except for one brother. He knew the truth. The others, like their mother could not accept what their brother was. My Father died never knowing any of this was going on.

    I think child molestation is far more prevalent then the statistics presented by Megyn-As the population grows so does child molestation-

    I think too that the hullabaloo over the Duggars being hypocrites or not should not be the main issue- the real issue should be about child molestation and how to put a stop to it. I am thankful that Megyn did this story and not for any reason other than maybe waking up America.

    I also do not see parents closing their eyes and protecting one child out of love for that child, while another of their children is victimized- I will never understand that kind of love.

    • annabilly says:

      I hope one day you will be able to feel better, though I certainly understand the intense pain you must be going through. That is why it makes me extremely angry that fans of the Duggars believe that since he asked for forgiveness everything should be forgotten. I think it is a travesty that The Duggars, TLC and their “fans” can overlooks something this serious. It is a blight on women all around the world. What message does this send? That it is better to move on. That is what one fan said, that anyone who thinks about it even a few years later, are just harping on stupid things and obviously they don’t want to forget. I was so shocked at this. How can anyone be callous? How can the Duggar parents brainwash their daughters into thinking it is okay and they should just forgive? They say they forgot yet in the police report they were able to remember quite a few details. But now they say they didn’t even know it happened? That’s impossible. The Duggars tried to minimize it by saying it was only for a few seconds and a couple of times over the clothes, even when it was under the clothes, well, yea, it was practically nothing. They have a lot of gall and not to get them any professional counselling is outrageous. I am incensed and I am appalled. Though, I believe that we shouldn’t ignore them being hypocrites because though it is not the main issue, it is still a part of their beliefs. Yes, how do they stop the molestation? By putting gates up and locks on the doors or by getting help for the victims and the abuser? Getting them help and confronting and being honest with themselves, the victim and the abuser is the right thing to do. How the network could continue considering airing this show is beyond not right! And how the Duggars who say they are God fearing Christians could outright lie on national television is also beyond not right!

  2. kim says:

    Now there talking about locks on the girls doors for protection against the boys? I noticed the girls wearing leggings under there skirts I guess for extra protection. Well hell why doesn’t Jimbo have them wear chastity belts which he holds the key and as the wedding gift he can unlock and another feature here is they don’t have to worry about chaperones. Problem solved

  3. kim says:

    Looks like it may be good bye to Pickles and Hairspray

  4. Jana says:

    They’ve beat down the Duggars enough now. Please move on to something else with all the hate. These leftest groups are so predictable.

    • annabilly says:

      That is just an awful thing to say. Really, stop beating them down? Haven’t they done this to themselves? Did they get help? No! Did they acknowledge it and were they honest? No! Jimbob wants ALL INCEST ABUSERS to get capital punishment and Michelle says transgenders will molst. Doesn’t that say something to you? So if someone molested a 5 year old that you know, you would say, hey, let us move on and not hate and beat down the molester? I certainly hope not.

  5. ThomT says:

    According to the interview Jim Bob & Michelle were not required, according to Arkansas law, to report the incidents to authority because it was “family” related. The question I have is “what about girl number 5”? The fifth girl, frequently identified as a babysitter, was not a family member and I don’t recall reading of her parents being notified or involved in any way. While I totally disagree with parents not being required to notify authorities I cannot imagine how that would excuse them from involving the parents of the 5th victim.

    • Ann says:

      That is a good question Thom. I bet the babysitter’s family was from the same church since they really don’t seem to associate with the community at large, and they were probably counseled not to say anything by the church elders. The Duggar parents are not mandated reporters but if they sought professional treatment, the therapist would have to file, and I bet the Duggars are aware of that.

      • crazyeightball says:

        Great question. Also what about the children of the other families that he talk to that had worst abuse? Why did he not report them?

  6. Disappointed in Megyn Kelly’s approach. She gave the impression of being sympathetic to parents who protected a child molester and placed their daughters in danger of being molested.. As an independent I’m not buying into a conservative vs liberal dogma as there’s no proof. It’s possible that Megyn had some agreed upon format for this interview after all this interview was heavily courted by the media. I just don’t see any harm in having social services interview the children and further investigate the family. I don’t think anyone can take the parents word that all is fine in the household based on their history. It would be in the best interest of the victims as well if an independent social service handled this mess.

  7. @ a number of the comments … Agreed, I believe that it was too gentle an interview. the Duggars continue to parrot out the words ” wrong, mistakes and forgiveness ” instead of Crimes and accountability .
    I wish that Ms. Kelly would have pressed the issue on that point .

  8. Ann says:

    I felt that the parents minimized and were in denial that their son is a child molester. They protected him at the expense of their daughters. As a social worker, I have always felt that there was the possibility of this issue in this family, given the controls by the parents, submissive kids, and isolation from the world. If your child has a medical issue, you would seek out a professional for help and this is no different. Josh did not get treatment and it is unlikely that the girls did either. Their culture is male dominated and the message given these daughters is to be submissive to men. I think there are far more secrets with this family. Teenage boys do not normally molest their sisters, so what happened to Josh? Without treatment by a professional, he is likely to reoffend.

    • THIS IS FICTION, It will NEVER HAPPEN! Just imagine Will Smith/Jada Smith’ s Son, Jadan molested kids, or, Angelina Joline/Brad Pitt’s Son molested kids, or some other high profile left or progressive entertainer politician, etc, Right Wing Media, Fox News, Limbaugh, Megyn Kelly, and other will go after them with more vengeance than any media on Real World Duggar scandal. Right Wing Society will want punishment and full 100% prosecutions. Right Wing Society will even want the child trialed as adult, death penalty or life imprisonment.

      It is the Duggars, good Right Wing Conservative Christian family. Right Wing Conservative Christians Family are flocking to protect them like the American Royal Family. Sadly, Religious People can hide under Religions Freedom to justify child molestation, child abuse, and child sexual abuse. Just say, My God forgives. you should too defense.

  9. Connie Inman says:

    Doing the interview I myself got tired of hearing the same thing, how sorry Josh was or that he made bad choices. I herd them refer a lot to the safe guards they now have in the home but what family would want to live like this. I feel bad for the girls, but there is a lot more to this story then what we are hearing. I feel this house is full of child abuse, an hope everyone gets help.

  10. ANNE says:

    And they don’t have to follow the LAW since they sought out GOD

  11. ANNE says:

    So they think they are the victims – and they say they turned to GOD – so now GOD is the LAW – and

  12. Wow, some good questions, but Kelly did not hold them accountable for what they were saying. She did no probe of their answers, it appears she believed their story. There were a lot of excuses, Jim Bob even wanted to define what a pedophile was, really? I do not buy it. They tried to minimize what he did. This must have been terrible for all of them, but if you put yourself out there criticizing others, you can expect scrutiny. I thought it was terrible to bring the victims out, that is just victimization of them for ratings. I almost feel like Michelle and Jim Bob were used too. Duggars, quit talking!

  13. Lynn says:

    Perhaps she showed restraint because these are human beings and not animals, despite the court of public opinion out there. She didn’t back off any of the hard questions and they didn’t refuse to answer. Now its time to quit dredging this up and victimizing those girls over and over again and for the media to back off. Its over. I’d almost guarantee they as well as their son and his wife and family are either being visited or are going to be visited by the Dept of Children and Family Services.

    • None of your business says:

      The only people victimizing those girls are their parents. They are 100% responsible for what happened then and now. This is not America’s fault or the media’s fault. This is their own fault and they need to get over themselves. They are not human beings and they don’t deserve restraint. Kelly is simply Fox’s puppet. Her interview was inept, too soft and clearly structured to give the Duggars more opportunities to lie.

      • So Done says:

        I so agree with NOYB – you said it so well. If this was Bill Clinton, the President Megan Kelly would be ripping into them. The interview was inept. I’m done with Fox. This family has more secrets. Who even watches this show and why?

  14. EnglishRose says:

    Yes, it was a far too gentle interview. Even though Megan Kelly asked some of the right questions, she didn’t follow through when they gave their pat “Duggarized” responses. Talking about Josh’s choices, how he only touched on top of clothes (well, maybe a couple of times that were under clothes), it was only for a few seconds, and the girls didn’t even know anything had happened. B/S! She let them get away with their denial, their minimization of facts, and their lack of appropriate response. Then Jim-Bob talked about how the media victimized them, and how the whole family is trying to regroup from “the attacks”. Megan also sympathized with them about how horrible this whole thing must have been. If I never have to hear Michelle’s squeaky, whispery, little-girl voice again, or Jim Bob’s constant efforts to make things seem much less damaging than they were, it will be fine with me. Goodbye, Duggars. Go away.

    • Claire says:

      They are terrible parents and terrible people, minimizing the abuse of their own daughters, who they threw under the bus to protect their reputation. CPS should take the entire clan away and get them all deprogrramed from their cult.

  15. Ronnie says:

    It was way too soft an interview. What it did show was that the Duggars are like many families that choose to ignore and/or hide what happened and protect the abuser first and not protect the victims. If they were smart, they would have sent him away from the family for serious psychological treatment early from the first time something happened, and by waiting until the 3rd confessed incident only shows their failures as parents. And what has angered most is their own religious hypocrisy referring to people in the LGBT community as predators when they know the truth is the opposite from their own experience.

  16. rhughsirius says:

    19 Kids & Counting plus their parents = An Abused Toilet. Now that’s real abuse.

  17. I’ll say up front I didn’t watch. But if this “review” and if the comments on twitter and elsewhere are any indication, it was exactly what everybody thought it would be. A dog and pony show to rehabilitate the Duggars and boost Fox News ratings. You know, the network that wouldn’t even cover the story till they got the interview. Well, the Duggars got the help they wanted from Kelly and Fox, but apparently they did themselves no favors.

    • sam says:

      I have a tough time with all of you calling a child a child molester. He was 14 there is no excuse for what he did but 14 come on. The babysitter may have been the same age maybe that is why it really wasn’t even child molesting with her. Too soft the bigger crime may have been the releasing of the juvenile records. I don’t necessarily agree with the Duggars and their stance on homosexuals and their take on Christianity altogether. You liberals are always ready to tear apart any Christian wrong doing like forgive is a bad thing man unreal. Why don’t you all go to a muslim country and try out your liberal ways there. Megyn asked all the right questions all the hard questions even don’t you think you are hypocrites for having the show knowing your past.

      • CommonSense says:

        Here is a thought…how many times does a man brush up against a woman in a bar? Watch out women when you see a man holding a beer bottle in his hand with his arm bent against his chest in hopes his own arm will brush up against a woman’s chest. Why are bump bars installed in drinking establishments? Maybe John Tapper from America’s Worst Bars can comment to this story. Better yet, get Megyn to do a story on his theories of touching each other on the outside of clothing.

      • Gail Walker says:

        No excuse except excuses

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