It’s been three weeks now since In Touch Weekly broke the Josh Duggar story, and what a wild three weeks it has been. For those of you who enjoy insider-y stories of old-fashioned journalism, I’d suggest watching this video interview with one of In Touch’s editors. He talks about their decision to spend some money and time investigating the Duggar situation after hearing some long-running rumors that Josh had been “sent away” at some point. In Touch sent several reporters to Arkansas to ask questions of the Duggars’ neighbors and fellow-church-goers and they got a clearer idea of what the scandal was, so they tailored their FOIA request specifically to alleged crimes of Josh and anything involving Jim-Bob and Michelle.
In the wake of In Touch’s old-fashioned journalism scoop, the Duggars’ PR and crisis management has been nothing short of a total disaster. They’ve lied repeatedly on-camera, they’ve offended many people and they look like simpering, faux-moralistic hypocrites. So the question becomes: who was advising the Duggars? Turns out they hired a political advisor who worked for Mike Huckabee.
When InTouch Weekly first broke the news that Josh Duggar had molested his underage sisters as a teenager, Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and 2016 presidential candidate, was one of the first to very publicly offer his support to the Duggar family. “Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family,” wrote the former Fox News host on his Facebook page, saying that even if an action was “inexcusable” that didn’t mean it was “unforgivable.”
It turns out the politician’s ties to the Duggars may run deeper than just a show of support. According to CNN Money’s Brian Stelter, the Duggar family’s public image crisis is being managed by Chad Gallagher, Huckabee’s longtime political adviser. Gallagher is the founder and principal of Legacy Consulting in Arkansas, and also oversees Huckabee’s political action committee, HUCKPAC, which made the news earlier this year for awarding nearly $400,000 to Huckabee’s own family.
The connection between Huckabee and the Duggars, both Christian conservative icons, seems to run deep, as the Duggars rushed to endorse Huckabee when he announced his 2016 bid for president, dropping their support for Rick Santorum. However, on June 4, reports emerged that the Duggars’ vociferous statements of support had been scrubbed clean from the “I Like Mike” sidebar of Huckabee’s campaign website, leading to speculation the latter’s camp was trying to distance him from the molestation scandal.
Huckabee’s senior communications adviser J. Hogan Gidley told E! News that the removal of the statements wasn’t deliberate and was merely a case of unfortunate timing: “The plan when we launched the Huckabee for President website simply was to rotate supporters’ pictures the first of every month.” Specific questions were sent to Legacy Consulting and Gallagher by email and via phone call, but they did not respond to Newsweek’s repeated requests for comment.
For what it’s worth, Huckabee was on Fox News last night blaming “the media” for exploiting the family. Seriously. Anyway, I suspect that Chad Gallagher is one of several high-priced conservative wingnuts brought in to help “save” the Duggars. In Touch reported over the weekend that the Duggars arranged for a private plane for some crisis manager – possibly paid for by TLC? – to come to Arkansas to advise them. I don’t know if that crisis manager and Chad Gallagher are one and the same, but as I said – it seems like the Duggars have a team of morons “helping” them.
The Wrap had an interesting piece called “Why hasn’t TLC canceled the Duggars?” They don’t really know, they just have a media analyst talking about how the Duggars’ Fox News interviews blew up in their faces. My theory is that TLC has been trying to protect their Duggar cash cow this whole time, spending money on crisis managers and PR consultants to try to “weather” the horrific revelations, and that’s why TLC hasn’t canceled the show – they think that after a few months, they can put the show back on the air.
Photos courtesy of the Duggars’ social media.