Todd Starnes has been at Fox News Radio for more than a decade where he is the daily host of “Fox News & Commentary.” He also frequently appears on many Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network programs. In addition, Starnes is a regular columnist for FoxNews.com and an author of four books, including his latest, “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again.”
What follows is an interview recorded March 13, 2017.
WND: In mid-February the New York Times Best Sellers list ignored your best-selling book, and it was widely reported:
Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes is joining the long list of conservative authors who have been excluded from the New York Times Best Sellers list – despite selling enough books to qualify for the No. 2 spot.
Starnes’ “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again” was named to at least three other best-seller lists, including those of USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and the Conservative Book Club, in addition to being named a best-seller by Amazon.
Todd, when the New York Times ignores the success of your new book, do you feel vindicated by how perfectly that fits the cultural/religious-war narrative that forms the basis of your book?
Todd Starnes: I am actually more concerned about the offending of the gun-toting, Bible-clinging deplorables than I am the martini-sipping, tofu-eating liberals at the New York Times. But I do think that it’s really unfortunate that they seem to be targeting conservative authors, great writers, much more accomplished than myself – folks like David Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, for example. I am curious to know the NYT’s formulas. Certainly, they don’t have to disclose their formulas, but it really is peculiar when you make other best-selling lists but you don’t make the NYT best-sellers list.
It is really not a best-sellers list, but the books “we think you should be reading” list.
WND: Your book is an amazing compilation of vignettes from the front lines of what is analogous to a new American civil war between believers and non-believers. Since you are a five-star general in this war, walk us through from when you are first contacted about a skirmish and how you swing into battle.
Starnes: This is interesting because we get so many news tips from our readers about things that are happening in their town and community. I will give you a great example. Last week I had a member of the military at Lackland Air Force base send us this email that was distributed, telling officers not to use words like “boy” or “girl” or “colonial” because they might offend people. So instead of just going and publishing that information, we start investigating, we start doing journalism. We first of all contacted the person who sent us the information to verify they had sent it. Then we contacted the military base and we gave them 24 hours to get back to us to confirm a) the email was authentic, and b) to also find out what the context of the email was and then to find out if in fact they agreed with the information in the email.
Once we got all that information together we went forward with our story.
Then, sometimes you don’t know when you are being fed a lie. So let me illustrate what happened. Over the weekend, another person sent me a note that said, “Have you heard about what the general at Lackland Air Force base said about your story?” They sent us a copy of this letter purportedly written by the general saying that “any person who was politically incorrect was going to be fired” – which was certainly a great story if it were true – but all it took was about 30 seconds to Google the general’s name to realize that it was a fake letter. It wasn’t true at all! So we do due diligence to find out if these stories are accurate and if there is any validity to the reports we receive.
WND: When you first heard Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” sound bite, did you know immediately that something of major consequence had occurred? How long before you thought “Ah, book title.”
Starnes: You know, I really should have thanked Hillary Clinton in my acknowledgments for the name of the book. When I heard her use that phrase, I didn’t immediately think of a book title. I did think that it was the end game for her campaign. And it was not because of the word “deplorable” but the word “irredeemable.”
What Hillary Clinton was basically trying to tell the world is that people who believe in traditional American values, they are so egregious that they are beyond redemption. I think a lot of people, even conservative Democrats, the handful that are still left out there, realize: Hey, wait a second, this woman despises me because I believe in America, because I believe in American sovereignty, I believe in a secure border. I believe in traditional marriage. Those concepts, to people like Hillary Clinton, make you an irredeemable person.
That’s why I think that phrase was so significant. Now, had Hillary in fact won the presidency, the working title of my book at that point was, “We’re Doomed America: Your Guide to The Apocalypse.” That’s actually true!
WND: With a best-selling book, your daily show on Fox News Radio, your TV appearances and columns, you are in a position to positively influence our culture and keep firm our foundation based on Judeo-Christian principles. But those principles are grounded in faith, and now, according to Pew Research, roughly 23 percent of the U.S. adult population say their religion is “nothing in particular.” The number who self-identify as atheists or agnostics has increased from 2007 when only 16 percent of Americans identified as “nones.” This trend is often the basis for the stories you tell in your book. Can you suggest how those with faith can help reverse this trend?
Starnes: Here’s what I believe, that faith and freedom go hand in hand. I illustrate this in the book by telling a story about how pastors in the pre-Revolutionary War era were preaching about freedom and liberty from their pulpits. Something that would almost be unheard of today. And even on Election Day, preachers delivered sermons – so people would go to church, and then go cast their ballots. So I believe there is a pretty firm foundation and historical record showing that the Christian faith was very important to the founding of our country.
So the question is, “How do we reverse this trend?” Well first of all, churches have to be salt and light again. Unfortunately, a good number of churches across the county are on a salt-free diet. As a result of that, they have abdicated their position in the culture. There may be a number of reasons why. One of the most popular that I hear is “Well, they just don’t want to offend people.” So as a result of not wanting to offend people, they just don’t engage the culture. I believe that we are in the condition we are in now as a nation because many churches have chosen to abdicate that responsibility.
WND:What do you see that encourages you about the Trump administration when it comes to the culture-war battles, and what worries you?
Starnes: I am excited about the Trump administration when it comes to the culture war. One of the most positive signs has been his decision to pull back the Obama administration edict regarding transgender bathrooms and locker rooms. So I believe that President Trump used that as one indication that he is going to stand up for religious liberty across the country. My number one indicator is his pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch. From all indications it looks like Judge Gorsuch will be a good pick. However, I want to say this: I don’t believe that the president is going to make conservatives happy on other culture-war issues. So I suspect that we are going to win some battles and lose some battles with this administration. It may be a situation that we take what we can get.
WND: What is your next big project or goal for the remainder of 2017?
Starnes: I am very excited about an annual event that I host at the Billy Graham training center at the Cove. It is my third annual “Fall Getaway.” We call it “church camp for grownups.” It’s a fun weekend to meet our readers from all across the country. We gather together for a great weekend of fellowship and worship at the Cove in North Carolina. That’s coming up Nov. 3–5.
WND: Todd, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to engage with WND readers and answer these questions
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