In 1994 Jerry Falwell was criticized for using his “Old Time Gospel Hour” to hawk a video called “The Clinton Chronicles.” The “documentary” was laced with outrageous insinuations claiming Bill Clinton was guilty of everything imaginable.
The late Falwell held no punches in his opinions about President Clinton. He claimed that Baptist Clinton was “the most radical and controversial president in our nation’s history.” In contrast, the late preacher often claimed that the greatest president was Ronald Reagan.
Falwell found few, if any, shortcomings with Reagan, even though Reagan wasn’t that much into church attendance in his life. Even GOP friend Newt Gingrich is excused for the affair he had while wanting to lead the charge to impeach Clinton. Newt found forgiveness from Falwell, who invited Gingrich to speak at a Liberty University graduation ceremony.
Politics appear to carry more weight than theology, since Liberty University has had a chummy relationship with cult leader Sun Nyung Moon. Jerry often endorsed the Moon-owned Washington newspaper as an excellent source of news. He in turn claimed the New York Times was trying to intimidate small-town pastors into not speaking their minds.
Falwell’s newspaper, National Liberty Journal, is mailed to just about every church in the nation, free of charge. The paper overflows with praise for President Bush and allies, while claiming a national conspiracy exists against true conservatives.
A typical issue is represented by the one with a full-page ad promoting the book by Michael Kellet claiming to uncover the truth about the death of Vince Foster. The ad asks the question to be dealt with in the book, “Was Hillary involved?”
Another issue of the Journal has editor J. M. Smith’s book review of the book Red Dragon Rising. The book claims to document the relationship between Bill Clinton and communists. The article states that the legacy of Billy Clinton will be his betrayal of the sacred trust of the American people by harming the national security of the nation.
Another issue offers several other options on the Clinton presidency. The Secret Life of Bill Clinton is supposed to expose his crimes, while book Boy Clinton has “facts uncovered never revealed before.”
In November 1996 the Journal had a full-page ad by author George Carpozi Jr. peddling his book, Clinton Confidential. Use your imagination about what is in that volume. According to the ad the book is “funny, it’s chilling, and it’s loaded.”
The January 1998 issue outdid itself in allegations. Republican Bob Barr was highlighted in his attempt to get Clinton. Barr himself had multiple marriages and alleged scandals, not to mention a link to white-supremacy groups in his home state. The same page suggested the death of former Secretary Ron Brown was a possible political assassination by the Clinton group.
Conservative columnist Cal Thomas was allowed to write a scathing article against Billy Graham. The only way anything negative about Graham gets into this paper is if Billy said something supportive of the Clintons. Thomas implied Graham suffered from Parkinson’s disease, which caused him to be forgiving of Bill Clinton’s moral lapse in the White House.
Falwell’s “non-partisan” paper carried one article during the Clinton era entitled “Why Congress Must Impeach Bill Clinton.” This article came out before anyone every heard of Monica Lewinsky. To Falwell and company, the Clintons had all ready engaged in actions that threatened the nation.
The December 1996 publication outdid itself in appealing to the followers of the Moral Majority. Page 8 was loaded with partisan insinuations against the Clinton legacy under the title, “Clinton Controversies.”
One item was the article about the death of Vince Foster. Across the page was a photo of Ron Brown, with a caption claiming to have new evidence about the plane accident. There was an obligatory picture of Paula Jones, with an article about her alleged affair with President Clinton. Woven into the page was the story of Clinton’s former secretary of agriculture resigning in a cloud of conspiracy.
Seldom is anything ever mentioned in the paper about GOP scandals. Don’t expect to read much about the resignations of Karl Rove or Alberto Gonzales in the Journal. If anything, expect to read they were forced out by liberal conspiracies.
It comes as no great shock that Falwell had no grand affection for the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. If anything, there is more Hillary bashing in the paper than what was written about her husband.
A full-page ad hawked the book by Trooper Larry Patterson. The trooper claims to expose secrets about why Vince Foster really died. The book claims Hillary had a “steamy relationship” with the former legal aid to the White House.
When the war with Iraq made popular the deck of cards with significant enemies to be taken out in Iraq, the Journal jumped in on the frenzy. A deck of cards was advertised listing the most dangerous liberals in the nation. The ace of spades was occupied by Hillary, who was called the “most dangerous liberal in America.”
Ethicsdaily.com noted that Falwell boasted his followers feared Hillary more than they did the devil. Falwell boasted that he welcomed the proposed candidacy of the former first lady: “Because nothing will energize my constituency like Hillary Clinton. If Lucifer ran, he wouldn’t.”
In an audience I was in Falwell once boasted that he raised over $12 million a year to keep his enterprises functioning. With that kind of revenue and influence he no doubt will have an impact on the upcoming elections in the nation, even though he no longer lives.
The newspaper is mailed out by the thousands unsolicited and has the potential to influence the ministers in the nation to read it without discretion. Falwell’s son appears to keep the ball rolling in the direction Jerry wanted taking over the church and leadership of the organizations. Some have suggested he is even to the right of his father.
What impact this tax-exempt “Christian ministry” will have on the nation’s elections will be hard to gauge.
Don Wilkey is pastor of First Baptist Church in Onalaska, Texas.