Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said last week that he never supported or defended Josh Duggar after allegations surfaced in May that the former reality TV star had molested his sisters as a teenager.
"I really didn't support Josh," Huckabee told Iowa radio host Simon Conway on Dec. 23. "I supported his parents, if you'll go back and look at what I said. There's no support for what he did."
Huckabee has long enjoyed the political support of the Duggar family and said as recently as June that he would be open to having them join his presidential campaign. On May 22, he wrote a Facebook post condemning Josh Duggar's actions, but saying he did not think they were "unforgivable."
"Josh's actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn't mean 'unforgivable,'" Huckabee said. "He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things."
At the time, Huckabee suggested that Josh Duggar's behavior was a result of the immature judgment of a minor.
"The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today's blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one's judgement is not mature," he said. "No one needs to defend Josh's actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family's authenticity and humility."
In last week's Iowa radio interview, Huckabee repeated his criticism of the media for what he characterized as its exploitation of Josh Duggar's sisters, but but added that he felt their brother's behavior was "despicable" and "dishonest."
"I think in subsequent months, as more things came out, what he did was despicable, it was dishonest," Huckabee said. "He did some things that totally defy everything he supposedly stood for. But he certainly defied what his parents not only have stood for, but continue to. So my support was for his sisters, who were the real victims; I felt like they were being exploited by the media. The media didn't care what was happening to them and the emotional trauma they were going through."
"I've never defended Josh, and I don't defend him now, because there's nothing to defend," he added. What he did was absolutely hideously wrong and despicable."
Before the report that he had molested his sisters came out, Duggar was also executive director of the Family Research Council's FRC Action group, a position he subsequently resigned.
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
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