The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Sarah Palin hits media ‘double standard’ on Duggars, calls Lena Dunham a ‘pedophile’

Sarah Palin addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland in March 2013. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

A day after TLC stars Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar confirmed that their oldest son, Josh, had “improperly touched some of our daughters" years ago as a teenager, Sarah Palin is weighing in. And she's got especially harsh words for HBO's Lena Dunham.

The former GOP vice presidential hopeful lashed out at the media -- including in ALL CAPS -- for its "hell-bent mission to go after the entire Duggar family for one member’s wrongdoing, while giving a total pass to perverted actions of someone like Lena Dunham."

[Josh Duggar molested four of his sisters and a babysitter, parents tell Fox News

Palin pointed to a post by her daughter, Bristol, who wrote that the media gave a "big fat yawn" to Dunham "when she wrote in her book that she sexually experimented with her sister" as a young girl.

Sarah Palin called Dunham a "pedophile."


The Duggar family, which stars in TLC’s popular reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” found itself at the center of substantial media coverage after a tabloid report alleged that Josh -- now 27 -- had molested multiple young girls when he was about 14 years old. Josh Duggar apologized for teenage "wrongdoing" on May 21 and resigned from his job at the Family Research Council, a D.C.-based social conservative group.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, stars of "19 Kids and Counting," tell Megyn Kelly they were "devastated" following sexual misconduct allegations about their son, Joshua Duggar. The couple appeared in an interview on Fox News's "The Kelly File" on June 3. (Video: The Kelly File)

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar spoke with Fox News's Megyn Kelly on Wednesday evening, confirming many of the allegations in their recounting of events to the "Kelly File" host. The Duggar parents also said that they believe some of the media coverage was agenda-driven against them.

"There are people that are purposing to try to bring things out and twisting them to hurt and slander," Michelle Duggar told Kelly. "I think people on the outside say Christians are supposed to live this perfect life," Jim Bob said. "No. All of us as Christians, we struggle every day."

[Josh Duggar’s sister comes to his defense following molestation reports]

Kelly, along with the Duggars, also questioned why In Touch Weekly was able to obtain a police report detailing an investigation of a teenage Josh Duggar. "This information was released illegally, so I wonder why all this press isn't going after the system for releasing juvenile records," Jim Bob said.

Later on Thursday, the office of the Springdale City Attorney commented on the legal justification for the release of the police report by the Springdale Police Department:

"On 5/20/15, in full compliance with Arkansas law," the statement says, the city's police department "responded to a records request under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act."

"The requested record was not sealed or expunged, and at the time the report was filed, the person listed in the report was an adult," the statement explains. The city attorney also notes that "any names of minors included in the report, as well as pronouns, were redacted" in compliance with state law.

Michelle said she believes her daughters have "been victimized more by what has happened in these last couple weeks than they were 12 years ago."

Some, like the Palins, argue that the weeks-long coverage of the Duggars has gone too far. "The double standards make me sick," the younger Palin wrote in her blog post. "Josh Duggar touched a sleeping girls breast – a terrible thing to go. But now their ENTIRE family is punished and their hit show is canceled? He’s labeled as a pedophile? His family is crucified!"

[How do evangelicals view the Duggars? It’s complicated.]

A day after Josh Duggar's apology, TLC pulled all episodes of "19 Kids and Counting" from the air. The network has not yet announced its long-term plans for the show or for future programming featuring the Duggar family.

Sarah Palin is an increasingly infrequent and diminishing voice in today's Republican Party, with polls showing she is broadly unpopular among all Americans. But she maintains goodwill among a certain portion of the party -- social conservatives, who happen to be the target audience of shows like the Duggars'.

The Palins are not the first to argue that Duggar has gotten harsher treatment than Dunham, who wrote in her memoir, "Not That Kind of Girl," that as a 7-year-old, she inappropriately touched her 1-year-old sister. The passage prompted a substantial debate over whether Dunham had sexually abused her sister or whether her actions were normal for someone that age.

"I’m not defending the Duggar boy's obvious wrongdoing over a decade ago," Sarah Palin wrote. "The main victim in any story like this isn't the perpetrator, it's the innocent ones so harmfully affected. I’m not an apologist for any sexual predator, but I’m sickened that the media gives their chosen ones a pass for any behavior as long as they share their leftwing politics."

Palin wrote that the media should start covering "the shocking, unethical leak of a private, legally protected counseling document by a politically motivated law enforcement official" and "the media's hell-bent mission to go after the entire Duggar family for one member’s wrongdoing."

"I hate for anyone to go through this game liberals are allowed to play, relentlessly attacking on an uneven playing field until a conservative's career, relationships, and reputation are destroyed," Palin wrote. "To the media's targets I encourage, 'Rise above by never claiming 'victim', tell the truth, and keep the faith!'"

"And, for what it's worth, 'Welcome to my world; believe me - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!'"

[This post has been updated to include a statement from the City Attorney's office in Springdale, Ark.]