Eric Metaxas Says Vetting Guests Is Not His Job In Defamation Lawsuit Testimony

By Steve Rabey
Eric Metaxas Radio Show
Author Eric Metaxas hosts “The Eric Metaxas Show,” distributed nationwide by Salem Media Group. (Video screen grab)

On March 18, Eric Metaxas spoke about how “Christians Need to Reclaim Truth for God’s Kingdom” on prosperity gospel preacher Andrew Wommack’s podcast for his Truth & Liberty Coalition.

But six months earlier, Metaxas said in a deposition that he did little to confirm the truth of unsubstantiated claims of election fraud made by Joe Oltmann on Metaxas’ radio program.  

Oltmann, a Colorado political activist, had become a sensation following his Nov. 9, 2020, Conservative Daily podcast that spread stories about election fraud. He claimed he had listened in on an Antifa conference call and that a Dominion Voting Systems employee said the company had worked to ensure Donald Trump was not reelected.

Days later, Oltmann was sharing his stories with Eric Metaxas of the Eric Metaxas Show.  It was broadcast nationwide on his Salem Media Group program. 

Now Metaxas and other conservative Christian media figures are being probed about their practices in a defamation lawsuit filed by Eric Coomer, an executive with Dominion Voting Systems.

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In a deposition for the case, Metaxas said he had done little to verify claims aired in the broadcast that Dominion had rigged elections in the U.S., Mongolia, and Venezuela. 

“I’m kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants guy,” he said in the deposition. “We don’t have the budget, bandwidth or time to do anything like that. I don’t see that as my job.”

“I am usually taking my guest at their word,” he testified. “I’m not an adversarial interviewer, and he didn’t give me any reason to believe that he’s blowing smoke. If I ever thought anyone were blowing smoke, especially on an issue this important, I think I would ask them some hard questions.”

Joe Oltmann told Metaxas, “We infiltrated their meetings; we infiltrated their conference calls; we got information about what they were planning to do next.” 

Oltmann, founder of FEC United — which stands for faith, education and commerce — later said the man who rigged the election was Eric Coomer, an executive with Dominion, a company he claimed had previously rigged elections in Mongolia and Venezuela. “We were dealing with a person that could put his finger firmly on the American voice and tip the scale of the election very easily.”

Metaxas never asked for any evidence or verification, and instead praised his guest: “You infiltrated Antifa meetings which is utterly heroic and fascinating and wonderful and thrilling and inspirational to everybody listening, frankly.”

Oltmann also told tall tales on shows hosted by other conservative Christian media figures, including Michelle Malkin of Newsmax and Chanel Rion of One America News. The breaking news was so hot that none of them appeared to check it out.

Soon, Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell picked up the claims. Giuliani accused Coomer of rigging the election.

In December of 2020, Malkin, Metaxas, Rion and others were sued for defamation. The suit described “a dangerous trend among unscrupulous media publishers of printing or broadcasting salacious content, while attempting to disclaim responsibility for the accuracy of that content.” The suit claims defendants “simply did not concern themselves at any level with the credibility of who or what they were relying upon as part of their publications or the accuracy of what they were reporting.”

No efforts made to verify incredible claims

Dominion Voting Systems has sued Fox News for $1.6 billion. Dominion executive Eric Coomer filed the defamation suit against others, including Oltmann and Metaxas.

Coomer’s attorneys repeatedly asked Metaxas if he did anything to verify Oltmann’s claims, and Metaxas repeatedly said no, that’s not his job.

Q: Okay. In preparing to do a show, do you — do you or your team perform some sort of investigation?

A: Unfortunately, no, we don’t. … Usually, it’s like, that seems interesting. That book seems interesting.

Q: Did your staff do any investigation of Mr. Oltmann?

A: No. We — we really don’t do that. We kind of just, as I said, shoot — kind of shoot from the hip. If it sounds interesting or good, I — I’m really not looking for controversy, but it just sounded newsy and interesting.

Q: Did you find him to be credible?

A: Oh, yeah, I did. I did. And of course, that’s important to me. If I had a guest on that didn’t seem credible to me, on behalf of my audience, I would ask them some tough questions, like wait a minute, you know, that doesn’t sound right. Or why are you saying that. So yeah, that’s important to me.

Q: Before you went on air, did you do some sort of interview with him.

A: We don’t do that. It’s just not — it’s usually not necessary. I just want to kind of have a free-flowing conversation, and I want the guest to kind of tell my audience the story.

Q: Did you reach out to Eric Coomer to verify Mr. Oltmann’s story?

A: No. We — we don’t — we just don’t have the bandwidth to do anything even approaching that kind of corroboration, I guess, would be the word. 

Q: Do you know if any of your staff reviewed his social media?

A: I can say pretty confidently that they probably didn’t.

Q: So would it — would it be fair to say that when Mr. Oltmann came on your show, you had very little knowledge of him?

A: Yeah.

In other testimony, Metaxas said, “I’m not playing the role of a journalist.”

Metaxas may have trusted Oltmann because he learned of Oltmann from his friend and “dear soul” Kurt Nelson, who works with a missionary group in Texas. Donald “Kurt” Nelson is president and CEO of East-West, a $20-million mission agency in Plano. An online photo shows Metaxas after speaking at East-West’s 25th anniversary banquet.

MinistryWatch reached out to Nelson at East-West, but the ministry did not respond. 

Metaxas calls Coomer ‘evil,’ ‘criminal’ and ‘insane’

Oltmann’s claims filled Metaxas’s November 2020 broadcast, “How a security genius at Dominion Voting promised antifa members a Trump loss.” Metaxas himself compared Coomer, who has a doctorate, with the “Unabomber,” saying, “When you’re smart enough to get a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, it, you know, reminds me of the Unabomber. … They’ll flirt with insanity and violence, and it sounds like you’re dealing with somebody who at least begins to fall into that category.”

Metaxas also claimed Coomer was a globalist and Marxist — and that Coomer, or his acts, were evil:

These are people working on the side of evil. Let’s cut to the chase. This is satanic evil. Anybody who wants to cheat and lie, we know that’s wrong, but when you cheat and lie as a way to shut down the voice of American voters, that rises to a whole new level because this country has been the shining torch of freedom for the whole world.

Coomer’s attorney asked Metaxas, “Did you intend for your listeners to believe that Dr. Coomer was evil?”

A: I don’t think any human being is evil. And actually, if anyone ever says that a human being is evil, and this has happened on my program, I will stop them and clarify that everybody is made in God’s image, and no person is inherently evil. So when I use the term “evil,” I’m talking about actions.

Q: So did you intend for your listeners to understand that actions taken by Dr. Coomer were evil?

A: Well, again, I’m going with what my guest is saying, and I don’t have any reason to think he’s making it up.

On his show, Metaxas also said Coomer’s behavior was “extremely criminal, and these folks know they’re going to go to jail for the rest of their lives.”

Metaxas: ‘I like what I’m hearing.’

During his November 2020 show, Metaxas told Oltmann that news about rigged elections was scary: “I mean, it’s scary even just having this conversation with you thinking about this and if I didn’t have a strong faith, I really would be scared, but I’m not.”

Oltmann isn’t scared either, in part because his group FEC United operates a militia — another fact Metaxas admits he didn’t know before the show. The two discussed violence in one brief exchange:

Oltmann: I’m also not a fearful person. I believe that God will protect me and what God can’t protect on one side, I believe in the Second Amendment, so I’ll protect the other side. So —

Metaxas: Yeah. You think birdshot will cover it or do you have more  —  bigger weapons?

Oltmann: Among other things, I own quite a few companies, and one of them is the Gun Store and Range, so I think I’m pretty well protected.

Metaxas: I like what I’m hearing. I like what I’m hearing.

This article originally appeared at MinistryWatch.

Steve RabeySteve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

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27 thoughts on “Eric Metaxas Says Vetting Guests Is Not His Job In Defamation Lawsuit Testimony”

  1. I once considered Eric Metaxas a respected Christian public intellectual bringing Christ into venues where He wasn’t always welcomed. What he has become in recent years is both maddening and sad.

    1. I agree, Ron Miller. Years ago, I read his book, “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy,” and thought it was one of the finest books I had ever picked up. I’m stunned that the author of that magnificent biography is the same person perpetuating this Trumpist nonsense.

      1. Indeed. There was a time when Eric seemed genuinely to be engaging folks on all sides with a reasonable presentation of a Christian world view. Respectfully stepping into environments where those beliefs might not be well received. Those days have been gone for some time though. Eric seems to have learned where his bread is buttered, and that’s deep in divisive, conspiracy-peddling, Trumpist nonsense.

        The Mr. Metaxas of a bygone time would have prided himself on his sources and knowing the background of guests on his nationally distributed radio show. Now apparently it’s enough to just find someone who sounds interesting and not have to know anything about them.

        His Bonhoeffer book is an interesting issue. It’s extremely well-written and uplifting, but it’s also an incomplete picture of a very complicated individual. Most Bonhoeffer scholars found that it painted a picture of Bonhoeffer that would be more familiar and understandable to modern American Evangelical orthodoxy than to the particular Christian beliefs and lifetime evolution of man himself. It could even be perceived as hinting at the author’s now-apparent willingness to adjust the facts to appeal to a particular audience. Still, it’s more palatable and reflects far more more truth and grace than Eric’s current output.

        1. Thank you, Karl, for the insights on the biography. I’d like to do some further reading, so if you know of any good titles, I’d love to have them.

          1. You’re very welcome Jane.
            After receiving the book from a family member, I began reading and initially shared the positive feelings of many here. However, something didn’t sit right with me and I ended up setting it aside and looking into the criticisms of the work.

            There are allot of knowledgeable reviewers that take Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer to task, but one of the most readable, but still quite detailed, and by someone well versed in the source material is here:
            https://www.christiancentury.org/reviews/2010-09/hijacking-bonhoeffer
            Does a great job dissecting the shortcomings and slant of Metaxas’ work. However the overall -and likely most edifying- push of the review seems to be simply for people to read Bonhoeffer’s actual writings. Something -to my shame- I’ve only done sporadically and in brief. ”Life Together” is currently calling me from my bookshelf…

  2. Daniel Mitchell

    When someone is charged with spreading misinformation because they dare to challenge the narrative supported by the legacy media I for one am loathe to pile on in support of the engines of propaganda where truth is rarely displayed these days.

    1. Gordon Hackman

      If you’re going to challenge the narrative, it helps to have evidence that gives some credence to your claims.

    2. At what point do you get that this is all obviously pure conspiracy theory to grift off of religioius people – we are called to be discerning – not blithering idiots.

      Everything this fellow stated is purely false – it is just to wave the current evangelical boogieman around to get a name for himself.

  3. “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” Exodus 23:1 seems to apply here, unless of course, if the false report supports your political agenda.

    1. Bonhoeffer on fools:

      Against stupidity we have no defense. Neither protests nor force can touch it. Reasoning is of no use. Facts that contradict personal prejudices can simply be disbelieved — indeed, the fool can counter by criticizing them, and if they are undeniable, they can just be pushed aside as trivial exceptions. So the fool, as distinct from the scoundrel, is completely self-satisfied. In fact, they can easily become dangerous, as it does not take much to make them aggressive. For that reason, greater caution is called for than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

      https://medium.com/lessons-from-history/bonhoeffers-theory-of-stupidity-explains-the-world-perfectly-957cbb3fbac1

      Proverbs 17:12

      Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, Rather than a fool in his folly. —NASB

      Politics has made many a Christian stupid!

  4. That is the defense of all of Trump’s defenders when forced to tell give testimony under oath.

    ‘It’s not my job’: Deposition video shows Rudy Giuliani testifying that he ‘didn’t have time’ to check election fraud claims’

    By JACK NEWMAN FOR MAILONLINE

    PUBLISHED: 05:52 EDT, 5 November 2021 | UPDATED: 11:38 EDT, 5 November 2021

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10168589/Rudy-Giuliani-testifies-didnt-time-check-election-fraud-claims-Dominion.html

    Sidney Powell Argues Her Dominion Defamation Lawsuit Be Tossed Because ‘No Reasonable Person’ Would Believe Her

    Carlie PorterfieldForbes Staff

    Mar 22, 2021,06:37pm EDT

    Powell’s lawyers argued her claims..were clearly her own “opinions and legal theories” and not statements that the public would immediately believe (and that) that political statements are inherently prone to exaggeration and hyperbole.”

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlieporterfield/2021/03/22/sidney-powell-argues-her-dominion-defamation-lawsuit-should-be-dropped-because-no-reasonable-person-would-believe-her/?sh=749c7a8a1dad

    “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil.”

  5. The 2020 election integrity is an ongoing issue.
    Let’s wait for the many lawsuits to be settled
    before we throw Eric Metaxas under the bus.

    1. Dave,

      The 2020 election has been settled. Trump’s FBI , Justice Department and Dept of Homeland Security all say it was the safest election in the history of the United States.

      The lawyers who were pushing Trump’s lies like Giuliani and Sidney “Kraken” Powell are getting sanctioned or losing their licenses to practice law for making false claims in court.

      Sidney Powell’s actual defense to the court in this case is that their case was so outrageous that “no reasonable person” would ever take these claims seriously.

      1. Greg:

        “The fallacy of appeal to authority makes the argument that if one credible source believes something that it must be true.”

        The same fallacy applies even if three “credible” sources believe it to be true.

        A lawsuit filed, or even a subsequent court decision rendered does not necessarily mean the truth prevailed.

        Propaganda is extremely effective!

  6. He doesn’t think “any human being is evil?”

    If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

    I will listen to preachers that teach scripture and who’s life reflects godlike character. I am done with what any “Christian” celebrity says or thinks. I am also finished with any Christian that gets political, Jesus never railed against the evil government of Rome but railed against religious leaders that did not represent or teach the truth of who God is.
    After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. Job 42:7

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only hope. I study the scriptures and know how to vote.

  7. While many if not most Metaxas listeners likely consider him to be some facsimile of a journalist as he speaks and writes, Mr. Metaxas was correct in his deposition to insist that he is not. Rather, he is a professional gossip. Dealing in rumors, seductive fabrications, fictions, and as the Bible points to “gossip morsels” that are thrown out to be gobbled up by undiscerning souls who tragically give ear to lying lips. Speaker and listeners alike are morally culpable for the carnage to social, business, and political victims – and in this particular case Eric Coomer and Dominion Voting Systems.

    It appears that the American legal system will disabuse Metaxas of the idea that he is a law unto himself. But what is certain is that his self-indulgence in bearing false witness against others for his own sport and gain will not be ignored in Heaven’s court.

    The Bible puts us all on notice that God takes far more than just a dim view of these behaviors. He abhors them.

    Exodus 20:6 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

    Exodus 23:1 “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.”

    Proverbs 19:9 “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.”

  8. George Arthur

    Too many evangelicals argue a lot about Truth but they fail miserably in the area of being Truthful.

  9. Barbara Bates

    I actually think the beginning of the end for Eric Metaxas started with the very first episode of his talk show. It became evident he didn’t know how to secure a variety of interesting guests or did not put in the necessary research into their background. He seemed to stumble through interviews, repeating praises of his guests to a maddening degree. He would often have the same guests on multiple times. After following his Socrates in the City events, I remember eagerly waiting for his talk show and being so very disappointed.

  10. I only know of Mr. Metaxas’ name as the author of a well-respected book on Bonhoeffer. Based on his quotes in this article he seems to typify much of evangelical Christianity that seems to have little to no concern for what’s true but holds to what opinion appeals to them, hardly a recommendation for his show and loss to both Christian and church. We are nothing apart from Truth.

  11. Part of the moral obligation of being in the media, I would have thought, is to put effort into some level of verification, to obtain a comfort in the credibility of what goes public. Let’s be professional, folks. The audience/readership expects to be given material of value, not playground puff pieces cheered on by a trusted figure. It turns an outlet to a scandal sheet. I would also have expected more of Fox in this sorry seeming episode.

    I must say, I attempted to watch one of Metqaxas’ interviews a couple of years ago and found it to be more like juvenile adulation. Find out how to interview, Eric, check out old Parkinson clips. The one with Jack Lemmon, for example. *That’s* how to interview.

    1. This is good advice, “Let’s be professional, folks.” but you do realize that american evangelicalism (and GOP populism) openly rejects this… that’s the whole point of always denouncing the “elites” and experts in general. This movement is anti-intellectual and anti-professional. Eric is actually doing exactly what his audience wants him to do… just feeding them ear – tickling that is willfully un-professional, because they don’t want that ever… because that would too often bring up things they don’t like to hear…. dwelling in untruth is now a religious practice, a rite… to do otherwise would earn you a one way ticket out of the tribe…

  12. Meredith Nienhuis

    Will you not any of you acknowledge that Trump did Not conspire with Russia in winning the 2016 presidential election!? That Lie is the number 1 reason the GOP lost house and senate in the mid-terms and then led to “trumped” up charges by the Dems to twice try to impeach and remove him from office. I get that many of you hate Trump but please give it a rest and help our country survive the fine mess we are now in. Actually, I do not believe America will survive God’s judgement because of the Abortion Beast. Jesus Is the answer to one’s survival into eternal life.

  13. So did any of the main stream media talking heads verify the story that Trump had “colluded with Russia” before running with the story? How about when they claimed that Trump had lied about being spied on by the Dems? If Metaxas should be required to verify the stories of guests then lets apply that rule to all journalists.

    1. Kathleen Zielinski

      Bill, the problem with what-aboutism is that it results in everyone getting a free pass. Hitler gets a free pass because what about Stalin, and Stalin gets a free pass because what about Hitler. So nobody is ever accountable for anything, because you can always find someone behaving badly on the other side.

      Whatever may have happened with claims that Trump colluded with Russia, the subject of this thread is Eric Metaxas.

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