The media’s support doesn’t always guarantee Americans’ support – and the Duggar petition battle is the latest example.
A three-month-old Change.org petition demanding that TLC cancel its “19 Kids and Counting” show reached 100,000 signatures on Nov. 20. The petition called out the stars of the show, the Duggar family, for “LGBTQ fear mongering.” In response, LifeSite organized a petition to support the show on Nov. 20. After a day, that petition now boasts over 50,000 signatures. While TLC remained mum, the media chimed in on the “homophobic” family.
In his reasoning, the Change.org petition author, Jim Wissick, cited mom Michelle Duggar’s opposition to a transgender bill in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In a robo-call to residents in August, Duggar warned about the new law that would allow men to use women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and sleeping areas:
I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.
That comment inspired Wissick’s petition. He wrote about the “fear mongering” Duggars “spreading ignorance and hatred:”
Transgender people — who are far more likely to be the victims of harassment and violence if forced to use a bathroom that is inconsistent with their gender identity or expression— deserve to have the ability to use the bathroom in peace and safety.
In response, LifeSite launched, “a counter-attack, letting TLC know that the American people stand by the Duggars and their defense of traditional family values.”
“The Duggars represent the majority of people in state after state who have stood up for the traditional family,” the staff argued. “The real extremists are those who are demanding that a TV network penalize America's beloved family because they support the truth about family.”
An alternative Change.org petition, begun Nov. 19, also supports the Duggars with 6,000 signatures.
While TLC remained silent on the petition battle, the media didn’t.
The Washington Post’s Abby Ohlheiser began her story by explaining, “Why more than 100,000 people have asked TLC to dump the Duggars.”
But her article’s reasoning was the petition’s reasoning. “The reason,” she wrote, “as stated by the petition’s creator: Recent anti-gay statements made by members of the Duggars.”
“While they speak often of common ground with most Americans, the Duggars are a proud, outspoken spokes-family for their conservative Christian beliefs,” she later stressed.
(Because, “common ground with most Americans” is in direct opposition to “conservative Christian beliefs,” right?)
A headline something along the lines of “Why Petition for Duggars Gets 50,000 in One Week While Petition against Duggars Gets 100,000 in three months” would have acknowledged the broader picture.
But at least she noted the opposing petitions.
Raw Story’s David Ferguson didn’t mention the petition supporting the Duggars in his piece. Neither did CNN’s Lisa Respers in her piece, nor CBS’ Darian Lusk in an online piece. The Huffington Post’s Cavan Sieczkowski, in his coverage of the “LGBT fearmongering” and “homophobic” family, refrained also.
Some of those stories surfaced before LifeSite’s petition went public. But none of them took the time to add an update – or expressed interest in covering Duggar side of the story.
Entertainment outlets also jumped on the news. “19 Kids & Counting’ Cancelled?” asked Hollywood Life’s Lauren Cox. E! Online’s Alyssa Toomey advised, “Word to the wise? Don't discredit the power of the Internet.”
The three broadcast networks, ABC, NBC and CBS, have not yet noted the controversy.
The ninth season of the Duggar family show premiered this September.