When Fox News Called
Yesterday afternoon I answered my telephone and it was someone from the Fox News Channel. It was the first time I'd ever talked with someone from this news organization. I'm familiar with many of their programs from watching the news during my exercise stints on the treadmill.
The reporter was compiling a database of people who personally knew Billy Graham. From my journalism training, I knew the reason for this database. As high profile newsmakers grow older, news organizations around the globe prepare to be able to access appropriate people to comment on these people. This phone call struck me as out of the blue since I worked for Mr. Graham over 13 years ago. Even when I worked for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, I could count on one hand the number of occasions where I either met Mr. Graham or sat in a meeting where he spoke.
As I spoke to this Fox News reporter, I was trying to figure out why they had called me. Five or six years ago, I wrote an unauthorized biography, Billy Graham, which is a part of the Men of Faith series. While the book was unauthorized, it was a close to being an authorized unauthorized biography as you can get. Through my personal connections to BGEA, I checked every word of my manuscript with a long-term, close associate of Mr. Graham who made some key last minute adjustments on my manuscript.
I figure this reporter did a google search and my name came up attached to a Billy Graham biography and they had quickly located my work phone number. It was not difficult to connect the dots of how they made this connection. I discouraged my inclusion on this list of people to call for comment since there are many other people with a much longer personal history with Mr. Graham. And this reporter told me that I could tell her “no comment” when they call me--which is definitely going to be my response. While I care deeply for Mr. Graham and the Graham family, it's not my place to be interviewed at the time of his death. As I spoke on the phone, I could hear the keyboard keys clicking and this reporter was not deterred but included my phone number in the database.
Later in the day I understood the reason for the call. Now this news is scattered across the globe that Mrs. Graham has fallen into a coma. Whenever Mrs. Graham or Mr. Graham die, it will be a major news story. Fox News is getting prepared.
Postscript: I wrote the above material early this morning. Late this afternoon, I heard that Mrs. Graham passed away. Earth's loss is heaven's gain. What a remarkable person.