Time offers a little more insight on friendship between Donald Trump and Paula White

A new story by Elizabeth Dias, the Time magazine religion and politics correspondent, offers more insight into the friendship between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and televangelist Paula White.

Overall, it's a well-done report, although it sparked a question or two that I'll pose below.

First, let's check out Time's lede:

Donald Trump’s son Eric was glowing when he sat down at a Cleveland restaurant next to Orlando pastor Paula White. “Your prayer did it, Paula,” Eric told her. The younger Trump’s teleprompter had broken the night before as he prepared to address the Republican National Convention. “I thought I was going to have to wing 15 minutes to them all,” he said. “You prayed, and the prompter went back on.”
Eric Trump is not the only member of his family who has come to rely on White, 50, a popular televangelist who believes that intercessory prayer can have an immediate impact on shaping events. After she saw Eric, she went to her room in the Trump campaign’s Cleveland hotel, where she spent the next four hours praying for Donald Trump as he prepared for his prime-time convention address. Then at the candidate’s invitation, she met the Republican nominee, his wife Melania and 10-year old son Barron for another circle of prayer in their room.
“I do remember asking God to give him his words and his mind, and to use him—that it would not be his words but God’s words, that he would just really be sensitive to the Holy Spirit,” White recalled in an interview with TIME weeks later. “I probably [interceded] against any plot or plan or weapon of the enemy to interfere with the plan or the will of God.” That evening, White rode in Trump’s car with his family to the arena.

Keep reading, and the Trump-White story is relatively brief — less than 750 words. That's different from the deep dive that Dias earlier produced on "Donald Trump's Prosperity Preachers." You may recall, too, that I praised the Time writer's profile of Mark Burns ("Meet Donald Trump's Top Pastor") back in July. 

In her previous story, Dias asked White about the prosperity gospel:

Theologically, the belief that God wants people to be rich is controversial. Prosperity preachers often interpret Jesus’ teachings about abundant life in Christ financially, and that has earned them a bad name in many evangelical circles. White says her message is not “all about the money,” but a holistic gospel message of “well-being and opportunity,” which also addresses suffering. “How can you create jobs for people who want to work?” she says. “If you want to call that prosperity, yes, I believe in prosperity.”

For more insight on that angle, see former Time religion correspondent Richard Ostling's excellent GetReligion post from July on "The mystery of Donald Trump’s religion: Inspired by Peale, or by Paula White?"

Back to the Trump-White story: I like the "slice of life" nature of this piece. The behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the Republican National Convention offer insight that I have not seen elsewhere. Moreover, Time presents the concept of intercessory prayer in an impartial, non-snotty way (trust me, that's not always the case in mainstream media reports of this kind). Dias' approach allow readers to form their own judgments, free of editorialization on the magazine's part.

Moreover, the Time report provides enough context to show where this scenario fits into the overall context of Trump's 2016 religious hits and misses as well White's own personal and pastoral travails. But Dias avoids turning this piece into another treatise on the prosperity gospel.

After reading the opening section, I did find myself wondering: How do you know this? In other words, as an old-school newspaper editor might ask, where's the attribution? Perhaps the rules are different for a magazine.

Here's what I mean: If the reporter actually witnessed the scenes described in the opening paragraphs, then no "he said" or "she said" is needed. But if the reporter is relying on somebody else's recollection — in this case, White's — shouldn't Time spell that out as clearly as possible.

Yes, that might make for a more clunky opening (my quick rewrite below):

Donald Trump’s son Eric was glowing when he sat down at a Cleveland restaurant next to Orlando pastor Paula White, as White recalls it. “Your prayer did it, Paula,” she said Eric told her. The younger Trump’s teleprompter had broken the night before as he prepared to address the Republican National Convention. “I thought I was going to have to wing 15 minutes to them all,” she said he remarked. “You prayed, and the prompter went back on.”
Eric Trump is not the only member of his family who has come to rely on White, 50, a popular televangelist who believes that intercessory prayer can have an immediate impact on shaping events. After she saw Eric, she said she went to her room in the Trump campaign’s Cleveland hotel, where she said she spent the next four hours praying for Donald Trump as he prepared for his prime-time convention address. Then at the candidate’s invitation, she said she met the Republican nominee, his wife Melania and 10-year old son Barron for another circle of prayer in their room.

What do you think? Would such attribution add credibility to the report? Or were you OK with the original?

Time makes clear that the writer sought feedback from the Trumps, and the candidate even released a statement — which speaks to his high regard for White, since he's not known as someone who cooperates with the news media:

“Paula is a person of great faith and accomplishment. She has been a tremendous friend and I am grateful for her guidance and support,” Trump told TIME in a statement.

My only other question: The story refers to White's congregation as "a non-denominational church in Orlando that leans pentecostal." Shouldn't "pentecostal" be capitalized there? Or am I missing something?

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