Fox News largely ignored the controversy surrounding Josh Duggar following his recent admission that, as a teenager, he molested young girls, including several of his sisters. The revelations are particularly stunning given that, under the guise of protecting children, the Duggar family has played an active role in the fight against LGBT equality.
On May 21, In Touch magazine revealed that in 2006, Jim Bob Duggar - patriarch of TLC's hit show 19 Kids and Counting - had waited more than a year before telling police that his son, Josh, had confessed to molesting several female minors, including his sisters, when he was a teenager. TLC has since pulled episodes of 19 Kids from its schedule.
The revelations drew widespread criticism in the media, with many outlets pointing out the Duggar family's reputation as a torch-bearer for conservative values and strong involvement in Republican politics and anti-LGBT activism. The revelations look to many like hypocrisy from a family that's become a political powerhouse in socially conservative circles in recent years by wielding its reality show influence to stump for “family values,” Republican politicians, and the repeal of legal protections for LGBT people.
But while MSNBC and CNN have reported heavily on the Duggar scandal, Fox News has largely ignored the story. According to a Media Matters analysis, Fox News spent less than two minutes covering the story between May 21 and May 25, compared to almost an hour of coverage from the other cable news networks.
During the May 24 broadcast of Media Buzz, Fox News' media critic Howard Kurtz even criticized other media outlets for “piling on” by highlighting the Duggar family's ties to prominent Republican politicians:
The Duggar controversy has put Fox News in an awkward position. Before he resigned the day In Touch's story broke, Josh Duggar was the head of the Family Research Council's (FRC) political wing. Representatives of FRC, an anti-gay hate group that routinely links homosexuality to pedophilia and describes LGBT people as a threat to children, are a regular fixture on Fox News.
Former Fox News employee Mike Huckabee, who is running for president in 2016, has come under fire for defending the Duggar family in the wake of the controversy.
Media Matters used TV Eyes, Nexis, and IQMedia to search CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC for the terms “Duggar,” “Duggars,” and “TLC” between May 21 and May 24, 2015. Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded. Mentions after midnight but before the beginning of the next day's news cycle were excluded.