An Evangelical Journalist Finds His Calling at the White House

WASHINGTON — It was the morning after one other breathtaking revelation about President Trump and a $130,000 cost to a pornographic movie actress, and dozens of reporters crowded into the White House Rose Garden, in search of solutions. When considered one of them shouted a query about the cost, the president merely walked away.

Standing close by, on a ceremonial balcony overlooking the West Wing, was one other reporter, David Brody, ready for a non-public interview with Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr. Brody, the chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, was not there to inquire about porn stars. It was the National Day of Prayer, and Mr. Brody requested the vice chairman whether or not he was bored with defending his anti-abortion views amid “potshots” from comedians, and whether or not prayer was “alive and well in the White House.” He inquired whether or not Mr. Pence would attend the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem, scheduled to happen Monday.

Mr. Pence smiled and answered every query. Then he invited Mr. Brody to get espresso.

“The access has been phenomenal,” Mr. Brody stated later in an interview. “I’m very appreciative to God for allowing it.”

While Mr. Trump assaults main information organizations and suggests revoking media credentials for retailers he deems “Fake News,” Mr. Brody and his community take pleasure in a closeness to the White House that’s overseas to most reporters. In return, Mr. Trump will get a direct line to his most supportive voters, the conservative evangelicals who make up CBN’s core viewers. Their allegiance is vital to his success; greater than 80 p.c of white evangelicals who went to the polls in 2016 voted for Mr. Trump.

The Christian Broadcasting Network has turn into an necessary outlet for the president. Mr. Brody interviewed Mr. Trump eight instances throughout the marketing campaign. Every week after the inauguration, he scored a landmark interview by which Mr. Trump referred to as the media “the opposition party.” White House surrogates routinely seem on Mr. Brody’s program, and Mr. Brody himself has been a visitor each on Fox News and on packages on different networks like “Meet the Press.’’

“What you’re seeing in the White House is base-tending,” stated Kathleen Hall Jamieson, co-founder of FactCheck.org and a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Viewers of Christian media, she added, are sometimes offered with extra favorable details about Mr. Trump than they’d discover in the mainstream media. “It is agenda control,” Ms. Jamieson stated.

That criticism frustrates Mr. Brody. He factors to interviews he has finished with Democrats, together with Barack Obama. “I never personally make the case for Donald Trump,” he stated. “If anything, I will say, ‘this is why evangelicals love him.’ ”

But Mr. Brody, an evangelical himself, acknowledges that his community has achieved a loftier standing underneath Mr. Trump. Last yr, community executives erupted in cheers when Sean Spicer, the president’s former press secretary, referred to as on their correspondent in his first information convention. Mr. Brody is now at the White House a number of instances per week. And he was invited to an unique annual luncheon with the president, together with anchors from main information retailers, for the first time final yr.

For the White House, this technique has been intentional.

“It is a great platform,” Mr. Spicer stated in an interview. “CBN in particular has a very large audience that was very active in the election. A lot of those issues are not represented by Washington elite media folks.”

Mr. Brody’s position as a conduit between Mr. Trump and his evangelical base is rising as the midterm elections method. His new ebook, “The Faith of Donald J. Trump,” written with Scott Lamb, a vice-president of Liberty University, outlines what he calls the president’s religious biography in additional than 300 pages.

Mr. Brody and his co-host Jenna Browder plan to behave as moderators for components of the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference, which brings collectively politicians and leaders of the non secular proper in early June. The two have additionally met with Ivanka Trump to speak about following her on the street as a part of their midterm protection, Ms. Browder stated.

Mr. Brody’s place, and his viewers, make him an uncommon voice in Washington and a counter to what he calls the “liberal mainstream media.’’

“The media’s model of robust questions and my model of robust questions are completely different, based mostly on the viewers we serve,” he stated. “Our audience isn’t going to want me to really ask about Russia or Stormy Daniels. They are just not going to want me to ask.”

‘Megaphone for God’s Truth’

Most Washington newsrooms are strain cookers. But inside the Christian Broadcast Network’s information bureau, a brief stroll from the White House, the environment is extra relaxed, even familial. Mr. Brody, 53, is clearly the star, however it’s inconceivable to think about him ever barking an order.

Instead, he’s extra the like the newsroom dad, at all times prepared with recommendation or a tacky apart. Younger reporters recite a few of his mantras, like “You get more with honey than vinegar.” On the National Day of Prayer, employees members had been joking was that the day was their Super Bowl.

Mr. Brody grew extra critical as he sat down on his set to speak about his job. His calling, he stated, is to be “a megaphone for God’s truth.”

“I report the news and I analyze the news based on what evangelicals are saying and thinking out there in the heartland,” he stated. “It is a hybrid, for sure, but it is definitely more analysis.”

CBN News devotes itself to “news through a biblical worldview,” he defined, and his high three areas of protection are Israel, abortion, and non secular freedom. These days, he stated, he’s praying greater than ever.

Compared to giants like CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, CBN’s information division is tiny. It has an annual funds of solely $10 million, a employees of 70 and an internet site that will get simply 1.5 million distinctive guests a month. The community wouldn’t present tv viewers numbers, and Nielsen doesn’t monitor them.

Its energy derives from the religious capital the community has constructed for greater than half a century in evangelical properties throughout America. Just 15 p.c of white evangelicals say they’ve lots of belief in nationwide information organizations, in response to the Pew Research Center, however they’re practically twice as prone to belief information they hear from family and friends.

Mr. Brody and Ms. Browder began a weekly program final yr — primarily airing on Facebook — referred to as “Faith Nation,” which tries to interact a youthful evangelical viewers.

For the National Day of Prayer this month, CBN News interviewed a number of of Mr. Trump’s main evangelical supporters for a Faith Nation particular.

One of the visitors, Penny Nance, president of the Concerned Women of America, welled up with tears as she advised Mr. Brody how lengthy she had been ready for the United States to maneuver its embassy to Jerusalem.

In the make-up room earlier than her look, she spoke of how useful the community was for reaching her socially conservative supporters. Last yr, Ms. Nance was scheduled for an on-camera look at CBN’s headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va.; when her flight was canceled, she drove by way of the evening to reach in time.

“Often, people think you need to get on Fox and CNN,” she stated, “but if I’m being more strategic, I should want to do CBN, specifically David’s show.”

An Unlikely Conversion

Mr. Brody may appear an unlikely messenger for evangelicalism. He grew up in a Reform Jewish household on New York’s Upper West Side and attended Temple Emanu-El on 65th Street and fifth Avenue.

In highschool, Mr. Brody dreamed of being a radio announcer for the New York Mets, a forlorn underdog staff at the time. On sport days, he and a good friend would document their very own play-by-play.

When his faculty girlfriend transformed to evangelicalism, Mr. Brody adamantly resisted. “ ‘I will never believe in Jesus,’ ” he recalled with a smile. “I said those words to her.”

Gradually, although, he grew extra curious. The couple married underneath a huppah at her household’s dwelling in Chelsea, loaded up a U-Haul and their canine, Mookie (named after Mookie Wilson, a hero of the Mets’ 1986 World Series champion staff), and moved to Colorado Springs.

Mr. Brody had no thought then that he was shifting to the epicenter of American evangelicalism. They purchased a home a mile from Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian group James Dobson had based not lengthy earlier. Within weeks, he was at a yard potluck supper that he referred to as “one of those prayer Bible study evenings,” and that evening, he stated, he knew God was talking to him. Mr. Brody determined to observe Jesus.

“I don’t think I really felt joyful until I came to Christ in 1988,” he stated.

Mr. Brody labored his means up by way of Colorado tv manufacturing, taking video feeds and ultimately changing into a information director, profitable an Emmy award alongside the means. A job in sports activities manufacturing introduced him to Washington, however downsizing at his new employer pressured a change in plans. Focus on the Family supplied him a job as a radio reporter.

When CBN had a gap for a Capitol Hill correspondent, he jumped at the prospect of getting again into tv, this time in entrance of the digital camera. That was 15 years in the past.

As he spoke of his profession path, he paused and grew emotional. “God has orchestrated too many things for this to not be my calling,” he stated. ”I don’t need to blow it.”

Mr. Brody stated he noticed a hanging similarity between his story and Mr. Trump’s. Both are New Yorkers who discovered their means in an evangelical world, he famous, and each rose to energy they didn’t anticipate. Perhaps when he sees the president subsequent, Mr. Brody stated, they’ll speak about it.

“Maybe in Dr. Phil-subliminal-psychological world, there is something there,” he stated.

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