Sen. Ted Cruz

The New York Times, Falwell, Trump and shady Florida real estate (Oh! And nude pictures!)

The New York Times, Falwell, Trump and shady Florida real estate (Oh! And nude pictures!)

Long, long ago, there was a time when few newspaper editors in Texan could resist an opportunity to put the words “Baylor” and “Playboy” in the same headline. Yes, we are talking ages ago — back in the 1970s and ‘80s when Hugh Hefner was still considered a player.

Baylor, of course, was the state’s most prominent Baptist institution. Playboy was Playboy. Clickbait didn’t exist, but everyone knew that combining “nude” and “Baptist” would draw cheers in secular newsrooms.

Why bring that up? It appears that the Donald Trump-era version of that editorial state of mind is a story that puts “Falwell” and “pool boy” in the same headline. Oh, and don’t forget the hyper-clickable words “nude pictures.” And prison-resident “Michael Cohen.” And alleged comedian “Tom Arnold.”

With those lowbrow ingredients, some New York Times professional showed remarkable self-control when writing this headline: “The Evangelical, the ‘Pool Boy,’ the Comedian and Michael Cohen.”

During this week’s “Crossroads” podcast — click here to tune that in — I told host Todd Wilken that you can sense that this headline was supposed to be “The Evangelical, the ‘Pool Boy,’ the Comedian and Michael Cohen, oh my!” You know there had to be some Times voices arguing in favor of including “Falwell” and “nude pictures.”

Days later, it’s remarkable how little traction this story has gained. So far, even The Drudge Report has resisted adding a racy headline about it. While liberal Twitter has gone loco (see some of the attached tweets), there hasn’t been a mainstream firestorm — which is what usually happens when a neo-tabloid tale of this kind is baptized into mainstream journalism by the holy New York Times. What’s going on here, in terms of journalism? Here at GetReligion I noted:

Everything begins and ends with politics, of course, even in a story packed with all kinds of sexy whispers and innuendo about personal scandals. …

Basically, this story is built on real estate and court documents (that’s the solid stuff), along with a crazy quilt of materials from sources like Cohen, reality-TV wannabe Arnold, BuzzFeed and a pivotal anonymous source (allegedly) close to Falwell who readers are told next to nothing about, even though he/she is crucial to this article’s credibility.

In social media, lots of folks have simply led their imaginations run wild.

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Heidi Cruz profile in The Atlantic gives us a rare glimpse of prophecy fulfilled

Heidi Cruz profile in The Atlantic gives us a rare glimpse of prophecy fulfilled

I must admit, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was not someone I was following in the crowded Republican field for the presidency in 2016. So, I’ve been unaware of what a complex personality his wife, Heidi, is, and how she’s easily worth many stories in her own right.

The Atlantic just came out with a profile of Heidi Cruz that breaks new ground in what we know about her. It’s the first interview she’s given since 2016. There has been quite a bit of pushback about a quote she made complaining that her husband’s U.S. Senate salary is sparse — to the point where she has to be the family’s main breadwinner. Cruz’s Senate paycheck is $174,000, not bad money in an inexpensive city like Houston and we haven’t added in the generous bucks she pulls in from her job.

This YouTube video is one of many that rips her for being so tone-deaf and this Twitter feed really tears her apart. In terms of religion and journalism, all of this is a shame, as there’s fresh faith content in this piece, as well.

After an intro about how the couple met, there is this:

Since then, as Ted’s wife, the mother of their two daughters, and the family breadwinner, Heidi has helped see him through roles as Texas solicitor general, U.S. senator, and, most recently, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. In 2015, she took unpaid leave from her job as the managing director of Goldman Sachs in Houston to campaign for her husband. Suddenly, the curtain was pulled back on the woman who professed to love one of the most polarizing figures in American politics. While Ted struggled to find character witnesses within his own party—his colleague Lindsey Graham once joked about someone murdering him on the Senate floor—Heidi collected fans wherever she went. “Everyone loves Heidi,” a prominent Houston Democrat told me. “Every time I talk to her I think, You should be running for office, not your husband.”

Then, here is why we’re reading this piece.

Ambitious young women imagine choosing their own worlds. But to become a political spouse, even in 2018, is to learn that your world will be chosen for you. For Heidi, that’s meant enduring an excruciating spotlight, weathering tabloid rumors and the current president’s jibes about her looks.

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