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Reaction to Duggars' Fox interview is harsh; '19 Kids and Counting's' future looks bleak

Duggars are still radioactive to TV advertisers after Fox News interview, says one media exec

Based on the early response to Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s interview with Fox News, the future of their TLC reality series “19 Kids and Counting” looks bleak.

The Duggars sat down Wednesday with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly to discuss the recent revelations that their oldest son Josh had inappropriately touched five underage girls when he was a teenager. Four of them were his sisters, including one when she was 5 years old.

ALSO: What should parents do if a child touches a sibling?

On NBC’s “Today,” coanchor Matt Lauer noted that people typically agree to sit for a TV interview in order to put controversial issues to rest. But in this case, he said, the interview only raised more questions, such as why the Duggars waited for more than a year to report Josh’s actions to authorities despite his having confessed to his actions three times.

In David Wright's report on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” he said, “As a father of three little girls this was a brutal hour to watch.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper said: “If you have 19 kids, you can’t be a good parent.”

But what really may doom the Duggars’ TV future is the response on social media -- something that advertisers pay a lot of attention to these days, according to Brad Adgate, senior vice president for research at the ad-buying firm Horizon Media.

The Duggars took a pounding on Twitter during and after the interview, especially for suggesting that they were victims of media bias and tabloid journalism.

"#Duggars upset about all the attention and exposure that's been heaped on the kids who they've paraded on TV every week,” writer-comedian Frank Conniff posted.

Adgate said he believes that the public reaction to the Duggars will make it “an impossible task” to get advertisers to support the program if it ever returned. A number of major companies have already said they will not run their spots in "19 Kids and Counting," which was pulled from the TLC schedule on May 22.

“Advertisers are concerned about the environment they place their ads in and in this day of social media -- it’s changed from days of letter writing,” Adgate said. “There is much more pressure that consumers can place on advertisers if they are sponsoring a show that is inappropriate, and today you can do it in real time.”

TLC remains mum on the future of the program. The network had no comment Thursday on the Fox News interview.

Adgate said he believes that TLC is likely looking for a graceful way out.

When asked by Kelly about the future of the program, Jim Bob Duggar said, “We are fine whether they film us or not.”

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