Fox News’ Shannon Bream hosted Paula White-Cain, President Trump’s “longtime” spiritual adviser, for a softball interview after she was recently hired to an official position in the White House.
According to The New York Times, White-Cain (who also goes by Paula White) “will work in the Office of Public Liaison, ... which is the division of the White House overseeing outreach to groups and coalitions organizing key parts of the president’s base. Her role will be to advise the administration’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative, which Mr. Trump established last year by executive order.”
White-Cain, a televangelist based in Florida, has been Trump’s personal pastor and has previously said, “To say no to President Trump would be saying no to God.”
She is a proponent of the so-called “prosperity gospel,” a fringe interpretation of the Bible which purports, among other things, that the money a follower gives to their church will be returned to them in multiples. According to a report from BuzzFeed News, this doctrine is “not part of mainstream evangelicalism.” Followers of prosperity gospel have faced dire consequences for believers who are simply seeking spiritual guidance but end up getting conned by televangelists.
Toward the end of the interview, Bream asked about this critique, while praising her guest as a “faith leader for a long time.” In response, White-Cain gave a bizarre answer in which she objected to her belief being labeled “prosperity gospel,” claimed that she’s had to defend the existence of the Holy Trinity, said that “most of this is a political ploy just to hurt our president,” and concluded that she has “very solid biblical beliefs.” Bream never followed up.
One thing that didn’t come up in the interview was Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) 2007 investigation into alleged misappropriation of church funds by multiple televangelists, including White. (In 2011, the investigation was closed with no “definitive findings of wrongdoing” after some of the ministers targeted by the probe, including White and her then-husband, refused to cooperate.)
Bream is skilled in the art of softball interviews. She frequently uses her “straight news” show to host extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom and uncritically allows its members to push their regressive agenda. She has mirrored the group’s anti-trans rhetoric by serially misgendering trans people or referring to them by a gender other than that with which they identify. The same anything goes rules apply for guests when it comes spreading abortion misinformation.
Bream also recently offered disgraced Papa John’s pizza chain founder John Schnatter a safe space to stage his bid for a comeback into public life a year after he was ousted from the company for using racial slurs. And she also was the first stop for Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, after he got into hot water for saying the Statue of Liberty stands for immigrants “who will not become a public charge” and then linking the monument specifically to European immigrants. Her show’s history of allowing bad faith right-wing actors to sanitize their missteps and promote their harmful agendas exposes the emptiness of the network’s attempts to brand itself as a serious news organization.