03 Jan Trump and Christian News
President Trump shuns mainstream news networks – but not the Christian Broadcast Network
Ever since President Donald Trump entered the White House last January, mainstream news organisations have struggled to get the right to interview him.
But there is one Christian news organisation that has bucked the trend – the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) which has made no secret of its conservative evangelical Republican party support base to get better access to the Oval Office than many of their mainstream secular rivals.
It is no exaggeration to say that the president has throughout his time in power given CBN unprecedented access to the White House.
Not only that, but Mr Trump has also succeeded in delivering on many of the priorities of the conservative right, including nominating a conservative Supreme Court Justice and appointing opponents of abortion rights to key positions in his administration.
For CBN’s journalists and commentators – and others on the evangelical right – the president’s tenure in office has been boom time.
CBN’s 700 Club talk show is hosted by controversial televangelist and one-time Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson and has now become one of the most sought-after slots for the president and his supporters.
CBN had two interviews with the president throughout 2017 – putting it on a par with The Wall Street Journal and more than The Washington Post, NPR reported.
It says that Mr Robertson cited a Bible verse after the mass killings in Las Vegas last October which warned that man’s wickedness will lead to “violence and strife”.
He then went on to make a connection between violence in the US and what he described as a lack of respect for authority, including a “profound disrespect of our president, all across this nation”.
Mr Robertson has spoken sympathetically of Mr Trump several times since the latter’s election, and last summer told him that he is “so proud of everything you’re doing”.
Mr Trump himself has never been reluctant to highlight what he says are his Christian credentials. CBN’s chief political correspondent David Brody estimates to have interviewed Mr Trump about 20 times, including a cross-examination for a book about the president’s faith that is due out in February.
Days after Mr Trump’s inauguration Mr Brody was one of the first correspondents to sit down with the new president at the White House to question him about the presidential “spiritual journey” and his attitudes to prayer.
“I tell you what,” Mr Trump told Mr Brody, “I’ve always felt the need to pray, so I would say that the office is so powerful that you need God even more.”
Vice President Mike Pence has also – in interviews with Mr Brody – described the president as a genuine Christian “believer”.
“I think President Trump has a heart of gratitude for evangelical Christians in this country,” Mr Pence said.
Mr Trump’s relationship with evangelical leaders has prospered despite allegations against him from numerous women of sexual harassment and assault.
It has also caused much hand-wringing and so small amount of consternation in the UK, where both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, have expressed concern.
“If people want to support rightwing populism anywhere in the world, they are free to do so. The question is, how are they going to relate that to their Christian faith?” Bishop Bayes told The Guardian.
“And if what I believe are the clear teachings of the gospel about love for all, the desire for justice and for making sure marginalised and defenceless people are protected, if it looks as though those teachings are being contradicted, then I think there is a need to say so.”
Alastair Tancred is the MediaNet’s editor and writer, former broadcast journalist for the BBC and currently foreign reporter for MailOnline.