During an appearance on CNN's New Day Wednesday morning, Charisma Magazine Founder and CEO Stephen Strang called out the media's double standard when it comes to their coverage of the sex scandals surrounding President Trump versus their coverage of the sex scandals surrounding Democratic Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
Strang, author of the new book God and Donald Trump, tried to explain to a perplexed Alisyn Camerota why evangelicals still support President Trump in spite of the “reports of infidelity and other things.” According to Strang, “the issue for me and for millions of evangelicals is his policies.”
After Strang explained why evangelicals continue to support President Trump, Camerota then decided to compare President Trump to Harvey Weinstein, asking Strang “Isn’t that a little bit like saying, ‘Gosh, I really like Harvey Weinstein’s movies so I’m going to overlook what I know to be true about Harvey Weinstein and I’m going to support him and give him money for his movies?’” It’s nice to see the media and Hollywood have finally turned against Harvey Weinstein, especially after they spent years defending child rapist Roman Polanski.
Camerota asked Strang if he was “practicing some willful blindness in overlooking all of this to just look at the policies.” Strang responded: “Not anymore than the media did overlooking John Kennedy or Bill Clinton. What they did in the oval office was much, much worse than whatever is being alleged.”
Strang skillfully put Camerota on the defense; as the media has a hard time claiming the moral high ground on calling out sexual misconduct when they spent years defending Bill Clinton’s behavior and belittling his accusers. When the Paula Jones scandal first broke in early 1994, the media almost served as a more effective PR firm for the 42nd President than his entire legal team.
During a May 1994 edition of the Today show, co-host Bryant Gumbel treated President Clinton as the victim, saying “We’ve got an awful lot to talk about this week, including the sexual harassment suit against the President. Of course, in that one, it’s a little tough to figure out who’s really being harassed.” Newsweek’s Evan Thomas dismissed Paula Jones’ accusations as “being fomented by right-wing nuts.”
In a more recent example of media double standards, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, a Democrat, found herself embroiled in a sex scandal earlier this year after disclosing that “she had an extramarital affair with the police officer in charge of her security detail.”
The Tennessean, the newspaper that broke the story, did not mention her party affiliation until the fourth paragraph of the article while the Associated Press and ABC News did not even mention it at all. It should not take a genius to figure out that these same media outlets would have quickly pointed out the party affiliation of Barry, if she was a Republican.
While the media will continue to make the case that evangelicals are hypocrites for sticking with President Trump in spite of the sexual misconduct accusations against him, any hypocrisy by evangelicals pales in comparison to the hypocrisy of the media.
CNN's New Day
ALISYN CAMEROTA: So explain to us again how it is that evangelicals are willing to overlook these reports of infidelity and other things to support President Trump.
STEPHEN STRANG: You know, that’s easy for me. Donald Trump has had a reputation as a playboy going back to the 80s. I didn’t support Donald Trump for a long time because I didn’t, I didn’t approve of, you know, what I knew as his lifestyle and several things...
CAMEROTA: So what changed?
STRANG: Well, I think he changed. I really do. And I talk about this in my book, God and Donald Trump. I interviewed him in 2016 and expected sort of the brash personality that you see in the media. I found him to be respectful, to be, actually be a little bit humble. I was amazed. And other people that deal with him say that he’s a changed man. These allegations are from a long time ago. And when we elected him, you know, the “Access Hollywood” tape had just come out. And people knew that he was not perfect. I bring that up again and again in my book because we Christians know that you have to have forgiveness and that God can change lives. And that the leaders in the bible that we read about from King David on were not perfect in any way, shape or form.
CAMEROTA: Understood and no one’s perfect, of course. But in order to receive forgiveness, don’t you have to confess to your sins?
STRANG: Well, that’s between him and God. I believe...
CAMEROTA: Isn’t that a tenet of the bible? I mean, don’t you have to own up to these things? You know, Donald Trump famously said he’s never asked God for forgiveness.
STRANG: Well, I’m glad you’re quoting the bible. But I think the issue is here that’s between him and God. The issue for me and for millions of evangelicals is his policies. He supports the kind of policies that we think are important. He has become a champion of religious rights, of helping persecuted Christians, I could go right down the line and then of course, the Neil Gorsuch appointment was huge. And those are the policies. He’s, he’s done more to keep his promises than any other President.
CAMEROTA: I understand and I hear you and that one does make sense. But isn’t that a little bit like saying, “Gosh, I really like Harvey Weinstein’s movies so I’m going to overlook what I know to be true about Harvey Weinstein and I’m going to support him and give him money for his movies?”
STRANG: Well look, there was an election between two people and the other person was Hillary Clinton. In my opinion, one of the most corrupt people to ever run for President. You know, she tried to shame the women that came after her husband. I mean, and you know, what about the e-mail scandal and everything else? She was not perfect in any way and of course, her policies.
CAMEROTA: I understand but what about the women who have accused...that, you bring up a very good point. What about all the women who have accused Donald Trump, the fifteen women who have accused him of varying degrees of sexual misconduct? What about them?
STRANG: That’s between them and Donald Trump. This will have to play out.
CAMEROTA: But why are you willing to overlook that, and the fact that he’s tried to shame them and called them all liars and talked about some of their looks and said that he wouldn’t, you know, he wouldn’t dare to sexually harrass them, look at their looks. Why isn’t, he’s shaming them?
STRANG: Well, look, it’s not about those kinds of things. It’s about the policies. That’s 100 times more important; the direction of the country. I talk about this in my book God and Donald Trump too that millions of Christians were believing that the country was going in the wrong direction and we prayed, we prayed. And God raised up a man that we didn’t expect, that we didn’t even like but he has become our champion in a way that no one else has.
CAMEROTA: But are you practicing some willful blindness in overlooking all of this to just look at the policies? Are you putting blinders on?
STRANG: Not anymore than the media did overlooking John Kennedy or Bill Clinton. What they did in the oval office was much, much worse than whatever is being alleged. Plus, we all knew this. We all knew it, we just didn’t know her name.
CAMEROTA: And you’re overlooking it. I hear you, you all knew it and you decided to overlook it. And it’s interesting for me to hear you say that you’re emulating the media, that you’re using the media as the role model since you’re deciding to take on that behavior of the willful blindness, you’re saying.
STRANG: Well, I’m also a journalist so I can do that. But look, this happened a long time ago.
CAMEROTA: You think it stopped in 2006? You’re, you feel confident that Donald Trump did not cheat after 2006?
STRANG: In my book God and Donald Trump, I delve into that. I try to explain to the reader why this can happen. I believe that he accepted Christ. I quote people that say that. I don’t know personally if that’s true. And I have no evidence, there’s no evidence at all that he’s cheated, you know, in recent years; certainly since he’s been in the White House.
CAMEROTA: I mean, obviously there are many women who have come forward, the 15 women who have come forward to say that there was all sorts of misconduct from groping, to forcible kissing, even sexual assault. Do you believe those women?
STRANG: Well, I want to make clear that I don’t approve of that in any way, shape, or form. I don’t approve of Stormy Daniels’ lifestyle and her chosen profession.
CAMEROTA: But do you believe the 15 women?
STRANG: No Christian can do that. You know, I don’t know. I have not talked to the 15 women. I only know what is in the media. I know that I’m Donald Trump’s friend as much as I can be but even in my book God and Donald Trump, I make clear that he is not a perfect person. It is not a defense of him. It’s just grappling with the spiritual issues that have brought us to this point and raised this very unlikely President who is making huge, huge changes. And I believe in a positive way.
CAMEROTA: Stephen Strang.
STRANG: Everything from trade deficits to tax cuts. You know, we can go on and on.
CAMEROTA: Understood, I know that you like his policies, I get it.