Hunter Frederick of Frederick & Associates is both a well-known celebrity publicist/crisis comms advisor and a self-described Christian who specializes in clients who share his faith.
Despite rumors to the contrary, he and his firm “are in no way affiliated with the [Duggar] family, the show, or the network nor have we ever advised them.” He even told Christianity Today that he declined to represent the Duggars when they reached out to him.
He did, however, share some of his thoughts on the case with us today on the eve of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s “exclusive” interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News. Kelly told People magazine that her goal is to “answer some of the harder questions about whether they behaved hypocritically.”
Frederick tells us:
“Based on what I’ve seen and know from working a lot within Christian and church culture, they have been forgiven by those that share their same beliefs.”
We would like to add that those that share their same beliefs are not so forgiving of the many reporters who continue to cover the story. See, for example, some of the more verbose hate mail sent to Gawker’s Allie Jones in recent days.
Frederick, however, feels like some PR pros aren’t quite looking at this story through the right lens:
“What I think even the PR professionals are missing is this idea of different audiences or publics. When you look at the Duggar family they have different publics; Christians are just one of these publics.”
The problem is that the Duggars have yet to address any members of the public who don’t share their belief system:
“What the family is not acknowledging is…for those people an apology simply isn’t good enough. In crisis management you can’t just focus on one public, you have to look at your whole audience.”
Frederick argues that, rather than retreating from the public eye and posting a statement on Facebook, Josh Duggar should have conducted “a live interview or even live-to-tape interview…out of the gate.” He calls Duggar’s apology “weak,” and The Washington Post faith reporter Joel J. Miller agrees, labeling it “disturbing” in its self-interest.
Finally, Frederick adds:
“There need to be repercussions [for] his actions. Even Christians would agree: just because you’re forgiven does not mean you get ‘a free pass.'”
Like much of the Western world, Frederick is very interested in tonight’s interview. We will go out on a limb and predict that the Duggars’ apologies will please very few critics…and that prominent politicians and others associated with them will continue to plead ignorance.