It all started several months ago when I found some articles about an upcoming television series called “Breaking Amish”. It sounded interesting, so I read the articles and discovered some pictures. Immediately, I recognized Jeremiah, and thought, “Well he hasn’t been Amish for years.”
Now, thanks to international awareness of TLC’s deception, most people probably know that Breaking Amish is not entirely true. But how exactly, did the scandal evolve from a handful of pissed off ex-Amish people posting their displeasure on Facebook, to a scandal heard around the world? Here I take a look back at how it all started, and attempt to construct a timeline. Need to take down the latest lying television network? Hopefully you’ll find some tips here. Okay, so we didn’t exactly take them down… but at least we caused some headaches for them.
September 9, 2012 (31 pageviews)
Episode 1 plays at 10:00 PM EST. In this episode, we are introduced to the cast and they talk about the Amish and how they have been given the opportunity to break away and visit New York City.
I didn’t watch the episode when it ran the first time, but I watched it when it came back on at midnight. I wasn’t really that interested in watching it at all since most television shows about the Amish are way off and we mostly just make fun of them when they do come on. But, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to write a review and perhaps boost the viewers on this little blog (I was averaging from 30-60 page views a day on here). So I guess in that sense I was seeking attention when I posted my angry thoughts about Breaking Amish.
Watching the first episode made me angry. I had no idea the extent to which Breaking Amish was going to be deceiving its viewers. On the show they were being billed as “Amish” and thinking of leaving “for the first time”. In reality, I had met Jeremiah several years ago and he hadn’t been Amish for years. He was driving a pretty nice SUV for Christ’s sake!
September 10, 2012 (1,793 pageviews)
Today Facebook came alive with hopping mad ex-Amish people. They knew that Breaking Amish was fake and they rightfully believed that the show was putting the Amish in an unfairly negative light. A lot of ex-Amish are talking to each other (wall-to-wall) and also on a page titled “Breaking Amish” that was promoting the show.
Today I wrote a review of the first episode (TLC’s Breaking Amish: An Analysis of Episode 1 by a Former Amish) and posted it to this blog.
Then, because I wanted to reveal to the world that Jeremiah wasn’t who he was claiming to be on the show, I spent several hours looking for evidence to back me up. I looked through my old photos thinking I might find some of him (I didn’t) and I scoured the internet. Finally, I found his deleted Myspace page in Google’s cache. It showed thumbnail pictures of him back in 2007, and he wasn’t dressed Amish.
A former roommate of Jeremiah’s posted on Facebook, and suggested that we might be able to find court records for him in several Ohio counties, so I searched high and low for those. I finally found his divorce records from 2011 which showed that he had married in 2005 and has three children.
I wrote up a post (TLC’s Breaking Amish: The Scandal of Jeremiah Raber) detailing the evidence I had found and posted it to the blog. Note to anyone wanting to expose the truth; Choice of words is important when trying to get the attention of the internet. Notice that I made sure to add “TLC” and “Breaking Amish” to the page title. Those are highly searched keywords. Also, I added “Scandal” to the title, thinking that it would bring in a lot of traffic once the truth became widely known. In retrospect, I should have used something along the lines of “Breaking Amish is Fake” since that brought in a lot more traffic.
After publishing those two posts, I started commenting on news articles about Breaking Amish. Hoping to reveal the truth and generate some traffic, I would include a link back to one of my articles. It worked. People started coming in and also telling other people about my damning posts.
September 11, 2012 (4,193 pageviews)
The Facebook page (Breaking Amish) is still very active with angry ex-Amish. I write and publish a post about it (Ex-Amish Unite in Vicious Protests Against TLC’s “Breaking Amish”).
Somebody starts a new page on Facebook (Breaking Amish the Truth) and they proceed to post evidence of Breaking Amish’s deceptions. The start with a picture of Abe and Rebecca together with a baby, a picture of Sabrina looking decidedly non-Mennonite, and some information about Jeremiah’s past that was listed in one of my posts.
September 12, 2012 (4,121 pageviews)
The first Facebook page (Breaking Amish) disappears. I’m guessing it was kicked off of Facebook because of some of the vicious attacks and counter-attacks going on between ex-Amish and fans of the show.
A picture of Jeremiah surrounded by beer-drinking buddies emerges on Facebook.
September 13, 2012 (3,110 pageviews)
Another Facebook page (Breaking Amish the Exposé) that’s very similar to Breaking Amish the Truth, is created.
Sabrina’s marriage license from 2009 pops up on Facebook.
Crushable.com runs a story suggesting that Breaking Amish might not be as real as they’d like you to think. They refer to this blog and the Breaking Amish the Truth Facebook page as their sources. It is encouraging to see that are websites are starting to take notice.
September 14, 2012 (1,678 pageviews)
CBS Philly runs a story on Breaking Amish. They interview a Mennonite man who took offense of Breaking Amish’s false claim that these kids wouldn’t be allowed back in the Amish. The show’s production company rebuts by saying they never claimed the cast would be permanently shunned.
Today I found Facebook pages for the Abe’s brother Andy and for the two Bens that appeared on the show. None of them appear to have been Amish for some time. I wrote up another post (Update on Breaking Amish: The Scandal) and published it to this blog.
September 15, 2012 (1,580 pageviews)
The Niagara Gazette publishes an opinion piece calling Breaking Amish “ignorant and disrespectful”.
September 16, 2012 (11,267 pageviews)
Episode 2 of Breaking Amish played tonight for the first time. In this episode, the cast leave the Amish “for the first time” and go to New York where they pretend to experience showers and microwave ovens for the first time.
Abe’s arrest record from 2008 for public intoxication in Kentucky, is revealed on Facebook.
A photo of Kate that was submitted to a modeling website in 2010, appears on Facebook.
September 17, 2012 (29,819 pageviews)
CBS 21, a small television news station in Pennsylvania runs a story questioning the show’s authenticity. One of the people interviewed, thanked me for my posts and said he used some of my findings in the interview. I am glad that a news station has finally picked up the story.
I published TLC’s Breaking Amish: Episode 2 Brings us More Lies on this blog.
September 18, 2012 (26,232 pageviews)
Examiner.com, starts posting a ridiculous number of articles about the possibility that Breaking Amish is fake. As is typical of “news” sites that pay their “writers” based on page views and barrage you with irritating popups, they post half a dozen articles about other articles whenever a bona fide news news site runs an article about Breaking Amish. As you might guess from my word choices, I’m not fond of websites that, instead of doing real journalism, simply grab the work of other journalists and re-package it in half a dozen different ways for the sake of making money. Anyway, I digress…
WetPaint.com and Starcasm.com publish articles about the allegations of fakery and cite this blog as one of the sources.
I published TLC’s Breaking Amish: Is Kate Fake too? on this blog.
Someone from a post-production company that worked on Breaking Amish, attacked this blog with false comments, using multiple names and email addresses.
September 19, 2012 (16,995 pageviews)
CBS 21 runs another story about Breaking Amish. This time they get TLC to respond to the allegations. TLC has the following to say; “There is a lot of information floating around about the group featured on ‘Breaking Amish’. Much of it is not true, but some of it is – and is addressed in upcoming episodes.”
September 20, 2012 (15,655 pageviews)
Variety runs a story about the fakery. In the article they say that TLC claimed it does not advertise that the cast of Breaking Amish is leaving the community for the first time.
In reality, TLC advertises the show on its website as, “Breaking Amish, premiering Sunday, Sept. 9 at 10|9c, provides a never-before-seen look inside the lives of young men and women as they, for the first time, trade horse and buggy with taxi cabs to break out from their respective Amish/Mennonite communities in their pursuit to chase big dreams in the Big Apple.” (emphasis is mine) It was also explicitly stated at the beginning of episode 2, that the cast are leaving their Amish communities for the first time.
The scandal appears to have gone viral as Google’s top search results for “breaking amish” are peppered with keywords like “fake” and “fraud”.
September 21, 2012 (19,024 pageviews)
The New York Daily News gives us a few more details and a person associated with the show claims that as filming progressed, it became clear that at least one of the cast members had misrepresented themselves.
Great! Let’s blame it all on the cast!
In the same article, TLC says that the issues will be addressed in future episodes.
Time to start re-writing and re-editing.
The Daily Mail Online (a British news site) questions the authenticity of Breaking Amish. The link back to one of my posts. It’s a good feeling to see the truth going international for the first time. It only took 12 days.
September 22, 2012 (10,636 pageviews)
News of the fakery appears on Good Morning America (ABC).
A private investigator with veiled threats of a lawsuit, pays a visit to the person that they believed was responsible for this blog. Did they think they could just scare these scandalous revelations into disappearing?
September 23, 2012 (27,871 pageviews)
Episode 3 airs on TV. Jeremiah admits that he was kicked out of the Amish three times before. Remember how, TLC stated that they are leaving their Amish communities for the first time? The said this at the beginning of the second (and maybe the first) episode, and also advertise it online as such.
September 24, 2012 (42, 030 pageviews)
A picture of Rebecca in a skimpy two-piece bikini from 2010, pops up on Facebook.
I published TLC’s Breaking Amish: Episode 3 Brings us Fewer Lies.
September 25, 2012 (20,765 pageviews)
CBS 21 gets hold of Jeremiah’s ex-wife, who says the show is fake, and runs a story about it.
September 26, 2012 (18,184 pageviews)
Evidence that Sabrina and another person from Breaking Amish appeared in Amish at the Altar, a National Geographic show that aired in 2010, emerges on Facebook.
September 27, 2012 (12,320 pageviews)
Pictures from two of Sabrina’s deleted Twitter accounts, appear online. Included are pictures of her non-Mennonite wedding.
At this point, Breaking Amish has been thoroughly debunked and shown to be fake on a number of levels. It has also been demonstrated that TLC lied to its viewers when they explicitly said, on screen, “They’ll leave their community for the first time.“