GOP 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told Fox News' Megyn Kelly on "The Kelly File" Monday night that he has been left "stunned and shocked" by the way the media has "exploited" the Duggar family in the wake of the molestation scandal. Huckabee also suggested critics are targeting the Duggars so heavily because of their Christian beliefs.
"I was stunned and shocked that the victims were exploited in this by the media for their own interests — there was no interest in the media to protect those girls, there was no interest to make sure their interests were served, and I think your interview pointed out that they had a very different reaction to all of this than did their critics who were out to destroy their families," Huckabee told Kelly.
The molestation scandal concerns Josh Duggar, who according to unlawfully released police reports, was found to have molested four of his younger sisters when he was a teenager.
The reality show based on the family, "19 Kids and Counting" has for the time being been pulled off the air by TLC
In a series of interviews, both the Duggar girls and Michelle Duggar, the mother, said that Josh has apologized for his past actions, and claimed that the trauma the family has suffered from the media coverage of the scandal is far worse than the actual molestation incident.
"For all of their information and everything to be turned over to a tabloid … for those things to be twisted and shared in a slanderous way — story after story, tabloid after tabloid," Duggar added, saying that "as a mom, that breaks my heart for my girls."
Huckabee agreed with the sentiment and asked: "How were the girls, the victims, served by the unlawful release of that information? It was not about the victims, it was trying to go after the Duggars."
He suggested that the family is being targeted for their Christian views, and argued that if the story concerned liberals, it would not have created such a media stir.
The Republican presidential candidate further rejected claims that if the Duggars were atheists, he would have been more critical of Josh Duggar's actions.
"The thing about being Christian is you don't want to hurt anybody; you don't want to destroy people — that's not your goal. You want to uphold truth, you want to uphold common sense, but you don't go out there to target individuals and see if you can exploit them for your own gain," Huckabee said.
Huckabee lent his support for the Duggars on Facebook in the days following the start of the scandal.
"Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends," Huckabee wrote at the time. "Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support."
He continued, "No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story."
Last week, however, his endorsements from Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar disappeared from his website.
Alice Stewart, communications director for Mike Huckabee, told The Christian Post that this was simply part of the natural rotation of endorsements on the "I like Mike" section of the website, and is not because the GOP candidate had changed his mind on supporting the family.