Another day, another TLC scandal. In fact, today, there were two: one involving a dead puppy, and another involving a pedophile producer who worked on at least three shows centered around children. The Learning Channel? More like The Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over And Never Learn Channel.
The beleaguered station canceled yet another show today, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Gypsy Sisters series, apparently because one of the cast member’s husbands was recently charged with felony animal cruelty. The allegations are sickening: cops say he threw a puppy against a wall, killing it, during an argument about the couple’s rent.
And the network picked up its third pedophilia scandal today with the news that an editor on at least three TLC shows starring children was recently busted for possession of child pornography. (He apparently worked on 19 Kids and Counting, a show literally starring a child molester, Jon and Kate Plus Eight, and a little-watched show called Table For 12.) The disturbing charges, via Radar Online:
According to North Carolina court documents exclusively obtained by Radar, 19 Kids editor William Blankinship, 60, was arrested on October 21, 2011 on ten felony counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a child.
The Raleigh resident’s pedophilia collection of images and videos were among the most revolting possible.
One photo centered on a 1 to 3-year-old girl with “ejaculate” around her vaginal area.
In a second picture, a 2 to 4-year-old girl laid on her back, legs spread open, with an adult male’s penis touching her vagina.
A third image featured a 4 to 7-year-old female being anally penetrated by an adult male, her hands tied with duct tape.
The father and grandfather even possessed a 9-minute video of an adult male having oral and vaginal sex with two 7-11 year old girls.
And that’s just the tip of TLC’s child abuse iceberg. Other recent scandals include:
Jon and Kate Plus Eight
The wildly popular show, which began in 2007, was TLC’s first flirtation with fucked-up families. Within a few seasons, the couple’s marriage had disintegrated and Jon filed court documents alleging Kate had abused their children.
“On Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, while bathing Leah, Father found [a] large, red welt on her rear end. [Leah] later explained that it was from Mother, after Leah bit Hannah… Several children have come forward to Father complaining that they get hurt when Mother spanks them.”
He also alleges that Kate, 39, is negligent when dressing their brood — leaving their kids in clothing that’s not only dirty, but also unfit for the climate.
“Children must be properly dressed for weather,” the docs read.
“On Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010, Father attended a field trip with Hannah, Joel, Leah and Aaden. Boys were dressed in cowboy boots and girls were dressed in Ugg boots. Ground was cold and wet and children slipped and got shoes dirty. Boys were dressed in pants and sweatshirt, with no undershirt or coat. It was 39 degrees that morning and children complained of being cold.”
The show was eventually canceled in 2010; the allegations surfaced for the first time this year—just in time to coincide with Gosselin’s return to television: Kate Plus Eight premiered with new episodes in January, 2015.
Even the shows without children offered a platform to child abusers: the Cake Boss’s former brother-in-law—a cake decorator who “frequently” appeared on the show—is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.
Toddlers and Tiaras
A pageant show primarily concerned with sexualizing toddlers—who would have thought this show would produce the network’s most benign scandals? Each week, the episodes featured children in wildly inappropriate situations—dressed up as hookers and wearing padded bras, to name a few. And the show, of course, gave a platform to a felonious dad who had been convicted of child endangerment and featured a mother burning her child during an eyebrow wax:
As her daughter screamed and trembled, the mother confided to the camera that her kid was scared because once a salon worker put on wax that was too hot, and tore off her skin. When the horrifying scene was over, the girl was shaking in pain and crying, as her mom said, “There! Doesn’t that look pretty?”
And it spawned the spinoff, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which died this year after horrifying molestation allegations involving at least two of the children featured on the show were made public.
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo
This fall TLC canceled one of its most popular shows—Here Comes Honey Boo Boo—after news broke that the show’s matriarch, Mama June Shannon, was dating a convicted child molester.
Not only a convicted child molester, but a convicted child molester who allegedly molested Shannon’s own daughter, Anna. And it wasn’t just Anna—according to the stomach-churning indictment, another of Shannon’s daughters, Pumpkin, was forced to watch the alleged attack.
19 Kids and Counting
This summer, molestation allegations against Josh Duggar, the eldest son of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, were made public by Radar Online. Turns out Duggar had been molesting his sisters for years—and his parents and the network both knew about it.
The show was finally canceled earlier this month, but only technically: according to reports, TLC still intends to give the Duggar family airtime with a confirmed one-hour, commercial-free special featuring Jessa and Jill, two of Josh’s victims. They’re also rumored to be in talks for a spinoff show—meaning both TLC and at least some of the Duggars will have a chance to profit from Josh’s sexual assault.
It’s astounding—and horrifying—that a self-proclaimed family-oriented network is such a ground zero for pedophilia, molestation and violent crime. Imagine their upfronts over the last few years. It’s grim: a felony convention full of unsupervised kids and an open bar. And at this point, it’s clear most, if not all of these families, should not be on television—so who keeps green lighting these shows? Where is the oversight? Where is the accountability?
More importantly, is The Learning Channel ever going to learn? They say insanity is making the same mistakes over and over and expecting things to change. Sounds about time for an involuntary commitment.