After HGTV pulled the plug on its upcoming reality series Flip It Forward following a controversy surrounding the anti-gay views of its hosts, twins David and Jason Benham have opened up about being ousted from the network.
The Christian hosts told CNN’s OutFront host, Erin Burnett, that they are not angry at HGTV, but felt like the network was “bullied” and “pushed into” canceling their show, which was set to premiere in October.
The cause of the scandal was an incident at a 2012 rally organized by their father, Flip Benham, promoting a constitutional amendment in North Carolina that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman. At the rally, David Benham said: “We have no-fault divorce; we have pornography and perversion; we have homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation.” He added that the Christian majority must repent for standing idly by and “tolerating” such things.
Asked if he stood by his words, David told Burnett: “Never have I ever spoken against homosexuals as individuals and gone against them. I speak about an agenda … that is seeking to silence the voices of men and women of faith. That’s what all this is about.
“We love homosexuals and we love Muslims and we have absolutely nothing against the people,” he emphasized.
David went on to say that some of the comments made on the website RightWingWatch, which labeled him as an “anti-gay, anti-choice” extremist, were part of a smear campaign. “I’ve never talked about Nazi Germany,” he claimed.
When asked directly if he would be OK if a homosexual person wanted to marry someone they loved, he replied: “I would not be OK with that type of an action because in the scripture it’s very clear that that would not honor God, nor is it good for human flourishing.
“It does not mean that I hate the person at all.”
Jason went on to say that HGTV had an opportunity to vet them and had seen some of the footage in the 18 months prior to the scandal. “They got to know us a little better, and then they made a judgment call, recognizing that David and I had no hate in our heart for anyone,” he said.
David said the network vetted them well and “saw the comments.”
Rather than being angry, “Our heart breaks for HGTV,” said Jason, adding that you are not allowed to have the “pro-family view” anymore. “I believe that HG was pushed into this. They were bullied. We felt that HG knew who we were.
“They believed in us. They believed in our show and our expertise in real estate. They were willing to take a chance with us, and we were putting out some great footage. We are halfway through filming, and it got cut off.
“But when all of this media firestorm happened around some of my comments, it was just — it was too much for them to bear, and they had to make a business decision,” he said.
Erin Burnett OutFront airs weeknights on CNN at 7 p.m. ET.
Watch a clip from the interview below: