Want to check in on the state of American Christianity? Look no further than the radio show of pop theologian Eric Metaxas, the biographer and OG Trump supporter who last week invited disgraced provocateur Milo Yiannopoulis for an hour-long chat on his syndicated program, The Eric Metaxas Show.
Yiannopoulos, you will recall—and don’t try to tell him you don’t!—is the loathsome and tiresome egotist (or, depending on your political persuasion, the fearless and bold teller of forbidden truths) who skyrocketed to fame as a Breitbart blogger during the 2016 election because he was loud and brash and right-wing and gay, and who subsequently plummeted back to obscurity when it became clear he had nothing else on offer. Having reached the end of his rope as a shock jock and hawker of vitamin supplements—on InfoWars, no less—Milo now seems to be attempting to reinvent himself as a Catholic public intellectual.
His latest (self-published) book is titled Diabolical: How Pope Francis Has Betrayed Clerical Abuse Victims Like Me—And Why He Has To Go. And this book was the ostensible reason for him to be invited onto Metaxas’ show.
Metaxas, who says he first met Yiannopoulos at the GOP national convention in 2016, sees Milo as another innocent victim of the Lyin’ Left: “Theoretically, falsely, you were accused of being openly racist in something you said,” Metaxas mourned. “The problem, usually, is that a lot of one’s followers are idiots who say the things that then you get tagged with. A lot of people online following up your comment, in defending you, said vile, genuinely racist things—and then you get tagged for it.” When your seething horde of devoted fans bury a black actress in a landslide of bigotry because you didn’t like her movie—ugh, don’t you hate it when that happens?
What’s interesting is how quickly it becomes clear that Metaxas—although he has apparently read and enjoyed Diabolical—seems to be blissfully unaware of most of the more revolting moments in the Milo oeuvre. He genuinely seems to think that calling Leslie Jones names was the worst thing Yiannopoulos has ever done. After a Milo monologue about the importance of trampling the left’s “speech codes,” Metaxas offers some slight pushback: “You have done it admirably throughout your career in every nanosecond of your media appearances, but it’s only when you say something that a woman is ugly or looks like a man that I say, I wish you hadn’t said that.”
One can only assume Metaxas has never run across the media appearance in which Milo suggested that his biggest problem with Planned Parenthood is that their murdering black babies prevents him from the possibility of having sex with them twenty years down the road. Or when he said that “behind every racist joke is a scientific fact.” Or when he railed against women who reported unwanted sexual molestations: “Our parents’ generation would have turned around and said keep your fucking hands to yourself and moved on with their lives. They wouldn’t have gone in to university administrators and tried to destroy the guy’s reputation and life over it. It’s not that big a deal. Someone touched your tit. Get over it.” And that’s not even to mention Milo’s most infamous transgression, the one that lost him his book deal in 2017, when, in a radio discussion concerning the silliness of consent laws, he waxed eloquent about the psychological benefits of pedophilic relationships between young teens and older men—“those relationships in which those older men help those young boys discover who they are and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable sort of rock, where they can’t speak to their parents.”
But don’t for a second think that Metaxas isn’t a paragon of virtue. Because he has a real problem with one thing about Milo—his swearing. “Now this book Diabolical, I have read it, I think it’s in many ways spectacular,” he informed his listeners. “But I want to caution my audience—there are words and things in this book that I cannot recommend . . . So I can’t really recommend this book in that way. But I think having you on my program says all that it needs to say.”
The Milo-Metaxas love fest is amazing for many reasons, not the least of which is that Metaxas seems to think that he and Yiannopoulos are basically on the same page ideologically. (When Milo asks if Metaxas has seen his college talk on the fabulous capitalist origins of Christmas, or his treatise on Beauty, “Why Ugly People Hate Me,” Metaxas exclaims, “See, that, I don’t think that’s wrong! I think that’s perfectly fine.”)
Milo, for his part, seems to be wondering how he fell from his star turn as a celebrity Trump booster throwing ironic Hitler salutes at white nationalist parties to dithering with an old conservative about the Ten Commandments on a show nobody even notices for a week. (During the appearance you can actually see him rolling his eyes at various points.) Because for Milo everything is always about The Brand. Asked why he decided to write the book, Milo tells Metaxas “I wrote this book in part to address this presumption that had arisen, that I was in some way unserious or insubstantial.” Just so no one gets confused on this point, the cover of Milo’s book about Pope Francis features a full-size portrait of Milo.
In a sense, though, Metaxas has done a real service by hosting Milo: He made clear that the political corruption of the modern evangelical movement is in its very late stages. Metaxas is for Trump. Milo is for Trump. So Metaxas assumes that he should be for Milo, too. (The fact that they’re united in disgust for the current leadership of the Roman Catholic Church helps too.)
“When I say feminism is cancer, and these women are ugly and hideous and all the rest of it, I am defending the ideals of beauty,” Milo told Metaxas. “I’m drawing attention to one of the most poisonous things about American culture, which is the elevation of the ugly.”
“That’s correct!” Metaxas exulted.
The irony, of course, was lost on both of them.