Editor's Brief

The Falwells, Cohen, Giancarlo and the Unified Theory of Trumpism

June 28, 2019 1:19 p.m.

Last week we got a few more dollops of information about this long-emerging story about Jerry Falwell Jr., his wife and their inexplicable relationship with a Miami “pool boy” named Giancarlo Granda. This story is, unsurprisingly, catnip for everyone who reviles the Falwells’ brand of weaponized sexual traditionalism under the guise of religion and their baleful impact on our national politics over almost half a century. Of course, at TPM we just love a good political scandal. But I want to take a moment to explain why I think this is a big and significant story beyond your ordinary scandal or the hypocrisy that is often the social license to obsess over them. I want to explain why I think this story is actually a pretty big deal and part of something much larger.

First, let’s get into the story itself. We don’t know just what the story is yet with the Falwells and Granda. But the upshot of last week’s news was that it’s pretty clear there’s something about the relationship, something tied to sex, that is totally incompatible with their public image or the institution they run. They put up over a million dollars to put the young Granda into business running a booze and sex-fueled hostel for no clear reason. They vacationed with him at a secluded resort. There are naked photos of Becki Falwell somehow in the mix. Something went on here.

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