3 things crisis communicators can learn from the Duggar molestation allegations

3 things crisis communicators can learn from the Duggar molestation allegations

Josh Duggar’s acts of molestation may have occurred 12 years ago, but now that he is in the spotlight on TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” the crimes of the past have been made public.


Many believe these actions should be discussed publicly, whereas others think it should be kept in the past. Either way, many communication errors surround the incident.


Deflecting the issue

When reports first surfaced that Duggar molested multiple underage girls 12 years ago, members of the Duggar family made statements to People. However, instead of discussing the issue at hand, Duggar’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, turned the subject to their faith and religion. Their religion may have indeed played a big part in their lives at the time, but this was mostly all they talked about in their interview. The only statement his parents made to People in regards to the molestation was: “When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked.”


Former Arkansas Governor Huckabee mid-speech

Former Arkansas Governor Huckabee publicly defends Josh Duggar amidst his many allegations. (media.salon.com)

Downplaying the allegations

Former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, stood up for Duggar after the molestation allegations were made public. Huckabee posted on Facebook in Duggar’s defense, saying that people are trying to “discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.” By referring to the publicizing of Duggar’s molestation of five underage girls as “sensationalizing the story,” Huckabee is doing more harm to both his image and to the man he is trying to defend.


Covering the incident

In 2006, a police report was made regarding the molestation but due to the three year statute of limitations, the police could not do very much. Instead of being open about the police report, the Duggar family kept it hidden. Had they been honest initially, the report would have been known, preventing the current allegations that are receiving national attention.


There were plenty of communication problems when the allegations were first made public, but even if the Duggars had handled the situation better, it’s hard to say if the public would be forgiving. Had the family been open from the start, this crisis situation for both the family and for TLC may have been avoided.


How do you think this situation should have been handled? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.

Devon Karbowski

Devon Karbowski graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2015. He received a BA in Writing Studies with an emphasis in Professional Writing and a minor in Philosophy. Currently, he is using his degree to pursue a career in freelance writing, proposal writing and social media management. The focal point of his MUI PR articles will involve public relations related topics.

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