Metaxas: Tremendously hopeful. I’ve never seen a president do what he said he was going to do so clearly and so rapidly in my life. The days of business as usual are over—that has been corroborated by the facts of the recent week. Any American would have to be happy and hopeful about that.
Green: But there are a lot of Americans who aren’t happy and hopeful.
Metaxas: If I sat down and talked to them, I would say … it’s an amazing thing to have an American politician, much less the president, actually saying what he means so that he actually act on it fairly quickly. It’s shocking, and genuinely hopeful for politics in America.
Green: But take for example Sean Spicer’s first-ever press conference with the press corps. He used it to berate the media for lying about Trump—
Metaxas: I think a fair-minded person 100 percent gives him a pass. Say you are Donald Trump, and you tried to make the case that you’re pro-everybody, but people have demonized you as racist over and over again. And then Time magazine scandalously—underscored, scandalously—reports something that is not true, that they should have triple-checked because of the incendiary nature of what they were saying. Trump probably just got hot-blooded about it, and said, “Here it is, I’ve been in office for a day, and they’re putting something out which is so defamatory, and by the way, it’s not even true.”
I would give Sean Spicer a pass. I wasn’t happy about what he said. But I just thought, “Given the context, no wonder they’re crazy angry.” It was a bad start, but I kind of understood how it happened.
Green: Evangelical Christians, as a group, are committed to the idea that there is a truth that can be firmly established. But at times, this does not seem to be Trump’s worldview. Take voter fraud—a claim he has repeated with no evidence to back it up.
Metaxas: I’m dying to see what this investigation will turn up. Here’s one thing the media and all of us should learn: Trump is not wrong nearly as much as everybody says he’s wrong. In the end, often, what he’s said has been corroborated. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to look into it. It undermines democracy even if there’s a perception of voter fraud.
Green: But isn’t there a perception of widespread voter fraud in large part because the president of the United States keeps saying it?
Metaxas: There’s this perception on both sides. You’ve heard people on the Democratic side saying there’s voter suppression. We can’t have a functioning republic with either the perception of voter fraud or voter suppression. It’s healthy to look into it. If he ends up having egg on his face, tough luck for him.
Green: But don’t you think it’s damaging for him to repeat this, or for Sean Spicer to repeat this, without having any evidence to support it?
Metaxas: I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt thus far because I, and many Americans, have been unfortunately trained by the press in recent years not to take their side automatically anymore. They have tremendously undermined themselves. The New York Times, which I’ve read my whole life, has never in my life stooped to these levels of partisanship. They’re so out of touch that they think it’s journalism. They’re going to have to understand that Americans don’t take them or mainstream media as seriously as they once did. They’ve hurt themselves. And the media has to repair the damage.