Benham Brothers Say HGTV Knew About Controversial Comments Over a Year Ago

David and Jason Benham say network asked about their past in vetting.

ByABC News
May 9, 2014, 6:47 PM

May 9, 2014— -- Twin brothers, whose planned do-it-yourself house-flipping show on HGTV was canceled this week before it made air, said the network knew of one brother's controversial past and was pushed into scraping their show.

David and Jason Benham told "Nightline" today that HGTV canceled their reality TV show, "Flip it Forward," set to premiere in October, after a liberal watchdog group published controversial comments David Benham had made publicly about abortion and gay marriage in years past.

"Our show had nothing to do with anything of the things that are now the controversy," David said. "But I also understand that HGTV when they called us and shut the show down, they said they had to make a business decision."

The Benhams, based in Concord, N.C., are entrepreneurs who have experience in buying houses on the cheap and renovating them, and then teaching others how to flip houses -- skills they said they planned to demonstrate in a competition-type reality show.

After the network announced the show last month, the lobbying group Right Wing Watch published reports alleging that David Benham was an outspoken anti-gay, anti-abortion "extremist."

The group posted reports on its website Tuesday and Wednesday this week, saying David Benham had led protests outside abortion clinics and led a prayer rally in 2012 to "stop homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation." Right Wing Watch claimed that David supported a North Carolina constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and woman. The reports also said David was an anti-Muslim activist.

HGTV announced it was canceling the brothers' show on Wednesday.

David Benham acknowledged that his comments at the prayer rally had "got me in a bunch of trouble," but said Right Wing Watch's reports took his anti-abortion comments "out of context" and their statements about anti-Muslim comments were "just absolutely untrue."

The brothers said they started the vetting process with HGTV over a year ago, and said the network raised questions about David Benham's past then, including his involvement at the 2012 prayer rally, and asked him to explain himself.

"We explained it to them and we gave the proper context for my statements," David said. "And they looked behind our eyes and said, 'they don't have any hate in their hearts for anyone, so we are going to give them a show.' And then they made us an offer."

"We let them know that we love Jesus, that we love people and we love real estate and we are good at what we do," Jason added. "And they saw that there was no hatred inside of us, for any people, any individual, any human being, and they knew we would be a great fit for the network."

The brothers said that they were three days away from wrapping filming their first flipped house for the show when they got the call from HGTV telling them it was canceled.

"The conversation didn't last long. They didn't explain why," Jason said. "We kind of understood why and we didn't want to pry in. They simply said 'we need to part ways, we can't go on any longer.'"

The network declined to say why it pulled the plug on the brothers' show, telling ABC News in a statement today that "HGTV is not moving forward with the Benham Brothers' series at this time. We're not commenting beyond this statement."

The brothers said they were supposed to flip houses for families in need on the show and they plan to continue to complete that work.

"When ... you're transforming a home, you're building a relationships, you're strengthening a community. That is good television," David said. "What we really regret is we are not going to get that opportunity."