- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Trinity Broadcasting Network is set to launch on Monday a nightly news and analysis program that offers facts followed by Bible-backed commentary.

Called “Centerpoint,” the 30-minute program was born out of a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and the urban riots following George Floyd’s death, a network executive said. It marks a departure from TBN’s usual roster of Christian teaching and worship offerings.

“In March of 2020, the world changed so much,” said Bob Fopma, the network’s chief operating officer. “Suddenly we realized that people were really thirsting for content that was relevant to what was going on in the world. And so we pivoted, very quickly.”

“It wasn’t enough to just have a Bible teaching program that had been recorded a few months earlier; people really needed something different,” Mr. Fopma said. “[The network] saw the response was just really very, very positive.”

TBN started doing one-minute “newsbreaks” between shows in January 2021, and after detecting “a real thirst for this from our viewers,” a half-hour daily show was “the next step,” he said.

The evangelical TV network claims to be available to 98% of U.S. homes via cable, satellite and streaming options.

Former Fox News reporter Doug McKelway will anchor the program along with TBN journalist Blynda Lane. Erick Stakelbeck, who hosts TBN’s “The Watchman,” covering Middle East issues, will be a correspondent, the network said.

“In our approach to coverage, we’re going to reach out well beyond the Christian community,” said Mr. McKelway.

He said he doesn’t have a deep background in Christian circles but told TBN executives “I’ll just reach out to the same people I’ve been reaching out my whole life, in the same kind of ways that I do, and cover stories the same way I’ve always covered them.”

That’s OK with TBN’s chief operating officer: “Doug is the anchor, he’s delivering the facts,” Mr. Fompa said. “He’s kind of controlling the flow of the program.”

Mr. Fopma credited Michael Clemente, the show’s producer and a veteran of Fox News and ABC News, and Mr. McKelway with bringing “gravitas” to the project.

“You need to have us a certain amount of credibility when you’re doing this,” he said. “You need people that have been in the trenches in the news business.”

Ms. Lane, a journalist and commentator well-known in Christian circles, said she anticipates learning from Mr. McKelway’s experience.

“I would say it’s exciting that we would get someone of that caliber to head our show is really exciting,” Ms. Lane said. “I am thrilled about the opportunity to partner with Doug on relaying the information in a way that I think truth will be told,” she added.

Mr. McKelway worked as a reporter for years at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., where his late grandfather Benjamin M. McKelway worked as an editor for the now-defunct Washington Star newspaper and his late uncle, John McKelway, wrote a column for The Washington Times.

Mr. McKelway is married to Susan Ferrechio, a political reporter for The Washington Times.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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