Sex Scandal

Concerning evangelicals, Trump and Stormy Daniels, named sources are more credible

Concerning evangelicals, Trump and Stormy Daniels, named sources are more credible

First is not always best.

That's my quick critique of the NPR story that made such a splash Friday. You know, the one that reported evangelical leaders are very concerned about swirling allegations "about the president and a payout to a porn star to cover up a sexual encounter." 

Those leaders, NPR said, "are organizing a sit-down with President Trump in June."

Alrighty, but where's the story coming from?

The answer would be "four sources with knowledge of the planned meeting." In other words, we have what has become all too frustratingly common in the Trump era: a narrative based on anonymous voices.

Bottom line: Such sources know what they're talking about. Or they don't. You can trust them. Or you can't. And therein lies the problem.

I'll admit my bias: I wish major news organizations would stop using anonymous sources (who have an agenda or wouldn't be talking). Make people go on the record (so readers will have more information on which to judge a source's agenda). Or simply don't quote them. It's that simple.

Anonymous sources do nothing to improve the credibility of journalism in an age in which the president of the United States scores cheap political points by criticizing what he calls the #FakeNews media.

After quoting the anonymous sources, NPR includes a named source — yah! — who pooh-poohs much of the earlier storyline:

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Alabama governor's demise 'bitter blow' for Christians? Maybe, but New York Times doesn't prove it

Alabama governor's demise 'bitter blow' for Christians? Maybe, but New York Times doesn't prove it

Earlier this week, I lamented the religion-free media coverage as Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley resigned after a sex scandal.

I opined:

Honestly, I expected to see the phrase "Baptist deacon" up high in all the day-after political obits of Bentley.
After all, the hypocritical nature of his religious emphasis after his inauguration vs. how he actually behaved while serving in the state's highest office had sparked in-depth magazine pieces from publications such as GQ.

On my personal Facebook page, my friend Alan Cochrum, a former copy editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, commented:

On the other hand, if the governor's piety had been pointed out, the news sources would get lambasted for piling onto a Christian. I think this is one of those "damned if you do/don't" situations.

I replied:

I get your point, and it might be true in some cases. But in this case, you've got a former Baptist deacon in a state where Southern Baptists are 1 in 5 residents and whose sex scandal involved a woman from his church. Seems relevant to me.

The next day, I was pleased to see the New York Times do a follow-up story delving into the response of Alabama Christians to Bentley's downfall:

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Religion-free political obits as scandalized Alabama 'love gov' resigns? Believe it or not, yes

Religion-free political obits as scandalized Alabama 'love gov' resigns? Believe it or not, yes

Long before he became embroiled in a sex scandal and got dubbed the "Love Gov," Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley stirred controversy.

Freshly inaugurated in 2011, Bentley made national headlines for remarks he made at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery — where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. Bentley touted the need for Alabamians to love and care for each other, pledged to be the governor of all the state's residents and described himself as "color blind." Then came the part that sent shock waves across the media universe, as GetReligion noted at the time:

"There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit," Bentley said.
"But if you have been adopted in God's family like I have, and like you have if you're a Christian and if you're saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister."
Bentley added, "Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."

Yes, from the start of Bentley's administration, his role as a Baptist deacon and Sunday school teacher — in a state with a million Southern Baptists — figured heavily in his political profile.

After fighting for months to save his job — if not his soul — Bentley finally resigned on Monday.

From the New York Times:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Gov. Robert Bentley resigned Monday, his power and popularity diminished by a sex scandal that staggered the state, brought him to the brink of impeachment and prompted a series of criminal investigations.
Ellen Brooks, a special prosecutor, said Mr. Bentley quit in connection with a plea agreement on two misdemeanor charges: failing to file a major contribution report and knowingly converting campaign contributions to personal use. He pleaded guilty Monday afternoon.
It was a stunning downfall for the governor, a Republican who acknowledged in March 2016 that he had made sexually charged remarks to his senior political adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
“I have decided it is time for me to step down as Alabama’s governor,” Mr. Bentley said at the State Capitol. He did not mention the charges to which he pleaded guilty, or the deal with prosecutors that mandated his resignation.

Anything missing from that lede?

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Sex (talk) scandal involving Alabama's Baptist governor brings out Old Gray Lady's snark

Sex (talk) scandal involving Alabama's Baptist governor brings out Old Gray Lady's snark

Apparently, Alabama's devoted Baptist governor, Robert Bentley, was all talk.

Come to think of it, he claims he still is.

Maybe I should back up a bit: As longtime GetReligion readers may recall, we wrote about the controversy that erupted after Bentley's election in 2010. That furor involved the Baptist deacon and Sunday school teacher declaring — on the day of his January 2011 swearing-in — that non-Christians were not his brothers and sisters.

Here's what drew the media's attention:

"There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit," Bentley said.
"But if you have been adopted in God's family like I have, and like you have if you're a Christian and if you're saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister."
Bentley added, "Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."

Fast-forward five years, and the governor — whose wife of 50 years filed for divorce last year — is making headlines for talk of a different kind.

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A football star (oh, he's a minister) talks about sexual abuse

As I have mentioned many times, issues related to the world champion Baltimore Ravens (still enjoying typing those words) are about as close to serious religion news as my local newspaper gets, most of the time.

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The decline and fall of King David Petraeus

Even by Friday night news dumps, this one was a doozie. David Petraeus resigned on Friday afternoon for reasons related to adultery. Which led Joyce Carol Oates to tweet:

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