The Josh Duggar scandal broke three days ago, yet TLC, the cable channel that airs '19 Kids and Counting,' has said not one word about the disaster. Will the reality TV show address the issue? Will it survive?
Rule number one in crisis management is admitting there's a problem, without whitewashing or sugarcoating. Going public and addressing all concerns is the only way to retain credibility and protect your brand – and your shareholders.
Johnson & Johnson exemplified that lesson in 1982, when its iconic Tylenol brand was literally intentionally tainted with cyanide by a murderer. The company immediately acknowledged the problem, pulled all Tylenol from the shelves of every drugstore and supermarket – 31 million bottles worth $100 million. Their quick and immediate action became a lesson in disaster management that saved the brand, and lives.
TLC has a problem on its hands right now, certainly no where near the level of the Tylenol murders, let's be clear.
The company the produces and broadcasts "19 Kids and Counting," its long-running hugely popular and hugely controversial reality TV show, has uttered not a word about the devastating and disgusting child molestation sex scandal surrounding Josh Duggar, the eldest Duggar family son. Nor has Discovery Communications, TLC's parent company.
The headlines are everywhere. Social media is overflowing with news and comments about Josh Duggar, after In Touch magazine on Tuesday broke its first story implicating him as a child molester when he was a teenager. In Touch broke several other stories, culminating with a police report that accused Josh of sexually molesting five girl under his parents roof when he was about 14 years old. Some of them were his sisters.
The Duggar family and Josh released statements Thursday night, and he resigned from his executive director position at the Family Research Council.
Still, not a word from TLC or Discovery.
Will "19 Kids and Counting" stay on the air?
One clue to "yes" might be that TLC broadcast a "19 Kids and Counting" marathon Thursday night, amid the exploding scandal.
TLC Thursday night did tweet a link to the Duggars' statement given to PEOPLE magazine, but that's all they've done:
Stunningly, Discovery Communications stock (NASDAQ: DISCA) is actually up this morning, a half-hour into trading. They have said nothing – their latest press release? "DISCOVERY LIFE CHANNEL REVEALS THE SHOCKING TRUE STORY OF THE MAN WITH NO PENIS."
But America is angry, and rightly so.
The anti-LGBT hate from the Duggar family, especially Josh and his mother, Michelle, has been vile and ugly, with false accusations that transgender people are child molesters, LGBT nondiscrimination measures endanger children, and same-sex marriage is destroying the American family.
There are petitions circulating to take "19 Kids and Counting" off the air, and who can blame angry viewers who for years were sold a bill of goods that turned out to be Christian hypocrisy, hate, and lies?
UPDATE – 05.22.15 1:40 PM EDT:
Breaking: TLC Pulls Duggars' '19 Kids And Counting' From Schedule