Since it was revealed to the public that Josh Duggar had molested several underage children, including some of his sisters, his social media has been more quiet than usual. He pointed the public to the family’s official statement, then disappeared for several weeks. Though Duggar didn’t step forward to defend himself publicly, instead allowing his parents and sisters to face the cameras and questions, he has spent the past month or so trying to reingratiate himself with his former fans.
It isn’t working.
Perhaps Josh thought the birth of his fourth child would bring back the love — after all, Duggar births are always a rush of public excitement, usually with special episodes and lots of fanfare. For Anna Duggar, though, this time around went a little differently. There were no camera crews, and TLC isn’t advertising a special episode devoted to the arrival of the newest Duggar. With the show canceled (despite continuing rumors of a spinoff and a strange amount of continued involvement between the Duggar family and TLC), Josh and his family are officially off the air.
Still, Josh excitedly posted new photos of the baby to his Instagram account, like any proud new father might. The difference, though, is that the average proud new father broadcasts his photos to perhaps a few hundred followers, if not only to tens. Josh Duggar broadcast his to 556 thousand. In other words, despite his downfall from fame, Duggar’s Instagram is that of someone who wants to remain in the spotlight — where many facing his current situation might have made their pages private, accessible only to personal friends and family.
Again and again, Josh has attempted to re-enter social media, posting Father’s Day photos with Jim Bob Duggar, anniversary photos with Anna, and new baby photos. Again and again, it’s clear that the public doesn’t want him back.
One mistake may have been thinking that a new baby would soften hearts, without considering the revulsion that some viewers would have at the sight of Josh Duggar holding a helpless baby girl.
When Josh posted that photo, his Instagram was flooded with accusations and questions, pertaining to rape, child abuse, and the safety of Josh’s children. (Note: there was a report last month that the Duggar family was being investigated by Child Protective Services. It is not clear whether the investigation pertained directly to Josh Duggar and his children, or to the rest of the family, nor what prompted the investigation. An investigation can be prompted by as little as an accusation. In the meantime, the authorities have the information and have found no reason to take Josh’s children from the home, so there is no current information to point to Josh being a danger to his children.)
The eldest Duggar son has tried three more times in the past week, posting another baby photo, a tribute to his parents’ marriage, and a shot of him bowling with his son.
In each case, Josh has been sharply rebuffed by previously adoring fans. Followers have declared that Josh needs to be subjected to further investigation, said they’d never allow their children near him, and called Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s rules for courtship “crazy,” not going quite so far as to claim that the extreme conservative way the Duggar clan handles sexuality actually caused Josh’s crimes, but strongly hinting. Further fears are expressed for Josh’s kids, especially the two little girls, and for his wife Anna.
Whether or not Josh has truly reformed, as his parents and sisters assure the cameras, it’s clear that his time as a beloved public icon is over. Though the Duggar family still has a number of supporters and fans, far fewer still support Josh. He’s no longer able to serve as a morality spokesperson for a conservative group, and he’s no longer getting photo ops with GOP presidential candidates.
His time in the spotlight may not be over, but the cheers have changed to Bronx cheers, and the viewers are no longer fans. It’s time for Josh Duggar to give up the dream — he’s not a media darling anymore.
[Photos via: Josh Duggar Instagram]