While appearing on CNN‘s "Erin Burnett UpFront" Thursday, David and Jason Benham, the twin brothers whose show was canceled by HGTV after reports revealing the two men are conservative Christians who actively oppose abortion and homosexuality, said that contrary to what many may have been led to believe, the network knew of David's activism a year and a half ago.
They told Burnett they also met with an executive at HGTV and once people got to know them and realized they did not hate gays nor would discriminate against gay people, they proceeded with the show. They also told Burnett that Right Wing Watch, the liberal website that breathlessly reported Benham's activism, engaged in a smear campaign, attributing comments to them they never said.
"HG had an opportunity to vett us and when they, a year and a half ago, saw some of the footage where my brother was saying the things he was saying, they spoke with us, they got to know us a little better and then they made a judgement call, recognizing that David and I had no hate in our hearts for anyone," Jason told Burnett.
"So you're saying they knew?" Burnett asked, sounding surprised.
David explained his comments were made at a prayer service in which he called on the church to repent of its own sins. He also said that HGTV is a "very smart network" that vetted them "very well" and were very familiar with the comments reported by RWW.
"We met with one of the executives in person and after they saw there was no hate in our heart toward anyone," David said, the network decided they could work with the brothers.
But that's not the way the story has been presented. According to all accounts, HGTV learned of the Benhams' activism from the RWW report and made their decision after the "expose." But it now appears that HGTV knew about it all along, but made the decision to axe the show under pressure from gay activists.
“We feel HGTV was bullied," David said. "They knew who we were and believed in us. They were willing to take the chance with us.”
The brothers also said they're not angry and hold no grudge against the network.
"Our heart breaks for HGTV," Jason said. "We had such a great relationship, and we still do with several of the folks there."
"We genuinely have no ill feeling toward HGTV and wish the best for the network," David told Deadline Hollywood in another interview. "We don’t have to have a show. We’re very content being husbands and fathers and real estate professionals in Charlotte. We would love to have a show – but don’t have to have one.”
A movement to boycott the network has started as a result of the cancellation, as many viewers say they are becoming tired of media outlets like HGTV discriminating against conservatives and Christians while promoting the gay agenda.
Video of the CNN segment can be seen here.