Falwell and the Pool Boy*

*(Alternate Title: Michael Cohen: Zelig for Scumbags)

So, while we wait for the next irruption of lethal folly from Dear Hairpiece, how’s about a little fun from the Evangelosphere:

The prominent evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. has for the first time acknowledged putting up $1.8 million for a business venture managed by a young pool attendant whom he and his wife befriended during a stay at a luxury hotel in 2012.

This story has been kicking around for a while:

BuzzFeed News first reported in May on a lawsuit that claimed the Falwells had developed a “friendly relationship” with Giancarlo Granda, then 21 years old, at the lavish Fontainebleau Miami Beach, flying him in a private jet, offering “financial assistance,” and ultimately setting him up in business. [All links in quotes are from the originals.]

“Friendly relationship” is a nice way of putting…whatever.

I got no problem with whatever connection either or both professional Christians and Mr. Granda may have.  But there is a sinner, stone and glass house problem here, and I’d say the good (Narr: he was not good) Mr. Falwell is up to his neck in “got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

What makes this all a bit more than the usual sexual fear-mongering-Christianist-hypocrite schandenfreudal moment is this. Falwell was famously the first major Talibangical leader to back Trump, giving him a venue at Liberty (sic!) University and a powerful endorsement.  This didn’t come out of the blue:  “Trump visited Liberty University Sept. 24, 2012, to give the convocation address.”

The timing was convenient:

Six months after evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife befriended a Miami hotel pool attendant in 2012, the young man was introduced to Donald Trump during a visit to the large religious school Falwell runs, Liberty University, according to a photograph sent to BuzzFeed News.

Guess who connects Falwell, the pool boy, and the failed president.

No prizes for guessing Michael Freaking Cohen.

Why was Cohen there? Turns out…

Cohen was an acquaintance of Falwell’s and helped arrange Falwell’s milestone endorsement of Trump during the 2016 election campaign, BuzzFeed News reported, citing a high-ranking official at Liberty University.

But not to worry:

As BuzzFeed News had previously reported, a source close to Falwell said he was “sure” Falwell had discussed the Granda case with Cohen prior to his unexpected decision to lend his backing to Trump. There is no evidence that these discussions played any part in the endorsement.

That’s their story, and I’d say they’d best stick to it.

Open thread!

Image:  William Morris Hunt, The Bathers, 1877


92 replies
  1. 1
    Corner Stone says:

    a young pool attendant whom he and his wife befriended during a stay at a luxury hotel in 2012.

    Sounds an awful lot like the beginning of how Mr. Versace met his end at the hands of the handsome Andrew Cunanan.

  2. 2
    Corner Stone says:

    And since we’re talking about young handsome men, I hate rooting for the Washington NFL team – but I need the Titans to lose.

  3. 3
    Olivia says:

    Did it have to be the “pool boy”? That is too much like a bad movie. Why not the plumber or the lawn sprinkler repair guy?

  4. 4
    Lyrebird says:

    @Corner Stone: I’m rooting for all the TV networks to start referring to that team as the Washington Redpants! Maybe the owner won’t budge, but with enough advertiser pressure, maybe everyone else can make the change irreversible. Maybe they’d prefer “Warriors” or something, whatever, they need to stop normalizing a slur.

  5. 5
    sukabi says:

    Blackmail is part and parcel of how drumpf does business.

  6. 6
    cynthia ackerman says:

    Somehow, the syntax here of “stick” as in sticky is … well, icky

  7. 7
    Yutsano says:

    But there is a sinner, stone and glass house problem here

    Negative ten points for misuse of mixed metaphor, Professor Levenson.

    I wonder if Mr. Granda is shopping his story to the highest bidder. This herring is stinkier than decade old gefilte fish.

  8. 8
    Corner Stone says:

    @Olivia: “Hello there. I’m here to inspect your…pipes.”

  9. 9
    maya says:

    As I roamed around on the streets of Miami,
    I said to mine-self, ‘This is one fancy town’,
    So I called up mine partner and said, ‘Hello Sammy,
    Come pack up your satchel and mosey on down’

    Kinda just hung out there over the plate

  10. 10
    Yarrow says:

    Ah, the evangelical Christians begin to show up in the story. We’re fairly far along now, then. Can’t wait to see the evangelical organizations’ Russian money laundering finally make the news.

  11. 11
    poleaxedbyboatwork says:

    $1.8 million sure sounds like one of the more pricey pay-away-the-gay schemes in the storied Xstian liturgical record.

    Will be great fun if somehow the Russians, who really know how to cultivate their garden of marks (hey, hey, NRA, who you gonna get killt today?), tipped off Trumpworld about the (alleged) Talibangelical tryst twist inna kompromat konspiracy.

    Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to! Cokie’s Law demands it!

  12. 12

    Zelig for Scumbags LOL

  13. 13
    hitchhiker says:

    I’ll be quite surprised if this story fades away. It’s got all the necessary ingredients for a good old-fashioned American scandal.

    Private jet
    Cover story

  14. 14
    Eric U. says:

    @Lyrebird: I swear the sports guys go out of their way to say the team’s name instead of “Washington.” I was halfway tempted to start calling out people on twitter when they use the team’s name the last time I saw them play

  15. 15
    Yutsano says:

    @hitchhiker: Don’t forget the big scarlet A here. Odds are that’s lurking somewhere around this mishegas. Bonus points if we’re talking gay sexytimes here.

    @poleaxedbyboatwork: Was that Cokie? I thought it was Nooners. We’re gonna need trading cards at the end of all this.

  16. 16



    I honestly don’t think blackmail is likely here! It’s not necessary. Cohen is a Fixer. Handling the financial aspects of rich men’s philandering is his job. It is completely natural for him to form a bridge between clients when they could use connections to each other. Also, people wildly underestimate how good a fit Trump is for evangelical desires. You may notice a moral equivalency between him and Falwell in this specific story.

  17. 17
    germy says:


  18. 18
    Emma says:

    Dear Author: We received your submission and we are sorry to tell you we will not be publishing it. However, since you show some promise, we would like to point out that any good modern murder mystery tries to avoid the cliches of earlier decades. A religious leader and a pool boy reeks of 1970s cheap titillation paperbacks. We would consider a more realistic premise and a less lurid language. Yours truly, the Editors.

  19. 19
    Patricia Kayden says:

    So what was the blackmail Trump used to get Franklin Graham’s unabashed support? It would be reckless not to wildly speculate.

  20. 20
    poleaxedbyboatwork says:

    @Olivia: Even their world-historical hypocrisy is unimaginative.

    What’s next, a tearful, sloppy, maundering, pathetic on-air “I-Have-Sinnnnned!” confession?

  21. 21
    trollhattan says:

    “Skeevy is as skeevy does.” said somebody’s mama.

    The grifting Franklins are getting progressively worse as generations turn, but the Fallwells live in a moral basement so vast and deep they can only be massive grifters and tools. It’s their way. But my, what a sparkling pool.

  22. 22
    Yutsano says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Judges to get Christian religious exemptions for their special snowflakes.Yes they’re that cheap.

  23. 23
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Negative ten points for misuse of mixed metaphor, Professor Levenson.

    I saw it more as a cleverly-constructed portmanteau metaphor, and assigned him ten bonus points for creativity.

  24. 24
    trollhattan says:

    I do miss Frank Zappa and so wish he were around to give these folks the treatment he gave Jimmy Swaggart.

  25. 25
    sukabi says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Cohen’s 3 clients did not include Falwell.

  26. 26
    poleaxedbyboatwork says:

    @Yutsano: I is mistaken n you is correct. Nooners it was!

    In my meager defense, concern trolls is so taxonomically similar, their baseline camouflage makes ’em hard to differentiate in the political wilds.

  27. 27
    Ken says:

    @poleaxedbyboatwork: Isn’t it always? And can you blame them – it has an excellent track record.

  28. 28

    MAGA Haberman is still spinning for T

    At the midpoint of his term, the president has grown more sure of his own judgment (WTF?) and more isolated from anyone else’s than at any point since he took office

    Reporting delusions of grandeur, as fact.

  29. 29
    Yarrow says:

    @Yutsano: It’s more than that. Take a look at their organizations. Like the NRA, some of them are Russian money laundromats. Of course other more salacious reasons for blackmail aren’t ruled out.

  30. 30


    Cohen’s 3 clients did not include Falwell.

    Then why is Cohen even mentioned here? How is he supposed to help anybody blackmail anybody without inside information? He just happened to be present? So? Or he said ‘I think Falwell would be a good fit for you’?

  31. 31
    Ken says:

    @sukabi: Help my failing elderly memory. Wasn’t there a report that Cohen had arranged a payoff to a pron star other that Stormy Daniels for one of his clients? I think I recall the “a” word (as in “roe v. wAde”) being involved in that one.

  32. 32
    Schlemazel says:

    @John Revolta:
    One of my favorite movies, so weird so odd. I’m not sure I can enjoy it so much now

  33. 33
    Schlemazel says:

    “The light of the lord shown upon him”
    He looked like Fobio on the cover of one of thoses novels

  34. 34
    lgerard says:

    Speaking of movies, the Liberty University produced film “The Trump Prophecy” landed like the Hindenburg. Even the evangelicals hated it.

  35. 35
    poleaxedbyboatwork says:

    @germy: Is that what the kids’re calling it these days?

    Remember, “befriended” is Sampson erecting the rock of St. Peter here! Attention must be paid!

  36. 36
    sukabi says:

    @Ken: Playboy Bunny paid off 1.8is million for Broidy.

    Trump, Broidy and Hannity were Cohen’s 3 ‘official clients as exposed this spring when a judge ruled he had to name the 3rd, which was Hannity.

    Adding, yes a termination was involved, probably why the payment was 10x the regular amount.

  37. 37
    West of the Rockies says:

    Maybe it was a good old fashioned threesome with the Falwells. I thought Jerry died years ago. Is it the son in this story?

  38. 38
    p.a. says:


    I wonder if Mr. Granda is shopping his story to the highest bidder. This herring is stinkier than decade old gefilte fish.

    Mayhap it’s already in the National Enquirer secure location?

  39. 39
    Corner Stone says:


    Cohen’s 3 clients did not include Falwell.

    Among many things, this is the problem with Cohen. Not only does he lie non-stop, but the reason he’s doing 3 years even with a plea deal is because he didn’t cooperate to the level SDNY expected. I think we have to take any utterance he poops out, even in court, to be suspect at best.

  40. 40
    H.E.Wolf says:


    Help my failing elderly memory. Wasn’t there a report that Cohen had arranged a payoff to a pron star other that Stormy Daniels for one of his clients? I think I recall the “a” word (as in “roe v. wAde”) being involved in that one.

    Shera Bechard, the mistress of former RNC Financial Chairman Elliott Broidy (who is or was one of Michael Cohen’s 3 “clients”) claimed that Broidy coerced her into having an abortion. It’s all out there on Google, if anyone wants the sordid details.

    One of the sordid details is a rumor that Broidy was a front for the actual Impregnator 1.

    [Edited to fix typo, and to thank sukabi for answering before this comment posted.]

  41. 41
    hells littlest angel says:

    A detail that shouldn’t be left out of this story is that the $1.8M was used to start up a gay-friendly (not that there’s anything etc.) hostel with an on-premises liquor store.

  42. 42
    JPL says:

    @Olivia: Why stop at one?

  43. 43
    Ohio Mom says:

    @maya: Allen Sherman!

    Though he had a sad end, his work continues to bring joy. The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY includes him in their pantheon, and displays a Camp Granada sweatshirt. If they only had reproductions of it in their gift shop, I’d be wearing it right now (our house is drafty).

  44. 44
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @schrodingers_cat: She can’t help herself. How else is she supposed to maintain her sweet, sweet access to Trump? Losing her dignity is nothing compared to that sweet access.

  45. 45
    dmsilev says:


    Negative ten points for misuse of mixed metaphor, Professor Levenson.

    Does he gain or lose points for leaving off the Oxford comma?

  46. 46
    A Ghost To Most says:

    Ain’t it always you know who’s boots
    Scooting up a goose stepping rhythm to a simpler time
    Quickest on the stick when the call of nature hits
    Shuffle shoeing to a pissy Florsheim
    Every slope is slippery with a little something lacy
    Tween your business and your poly wool blend
    The greatest separators of fools from their money
    Party harder than they like to admit

  47. 47
    Baud says:

    Who among us hasn’t befriended a pool boy? Or tennis coach? Or pizza delivery guy? I think it’s perfectly normal.

  48. 48
    Corner Stone says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I can’t remember who because I was busy cleaning up the chocolate milk I had just spit out. But on one of the morning segments one of the panelists made a 45 second or so defense of MAGA Habs. Saying she was an excellent journalist, had covered Trump for years and had a personal relationship. I was all, “That’s a defense?!”

  49. 49
    poleaxedbyboatwork says:

    @trollhattan: Tx., Frank assailing the puling hypocrite Swaggart, choice, will save that for later. Gotta go move a friend’s car outta long-term parking at airport but was waylaid by the delectable lamentations of richly deserving assholes.

    These fucking people. Never do they disappoint in living down to one’s worst expectations. Thus, proof of concept allus appreciated.

  50. 50
    Ken says:

    @Baud: Excellent preparation for the Baud2020! campaign. Get ahead of the scandals before they hit the press.

  51. 51
    dmsilev says:

    @Corner Stone: Insanity is a recognized criminal defense, so yes.

  52. 52
    Corner Stone says:

    Rev Al has RWNJ attack dog Jen Kerns on his show today. Never know why. The kicker is she is now employed by The Hill.

  53. 53
    zhena gogolia says:


    Haha, I was just thinking of posting that.

  54. 54
    Elizabelle says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Braid faster, Maggie.

  55. 55

    In other Liberty U. news, they hired a guy who was busted using a university-issued phone to call escort services while he was head footsball coach at Ole Miss to be Liberty’s coach.

  56. 56
    Elizabelle says:

    @hells littlest angel: Do you have a link for that? That is a detail.

  57. 57
    Mathguy says:

    There’s a banner ad above this page on my computer for Blaze TV, with “No liberal ad!!”. Is Google screwing with me?

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Yutsano says:

    @dmsilev: I’ve already had that argument with him. I know it’s based on which one your teachers preferred and all that, but I can’t understand the big deal about using it or not. I think it makes my writing have more clarity, so I use it.

  60. 60
    afanasia says:

    I’m irritated that this young man scored a higher payoff than Ms. Daniels or that very pretty Playboy model. The wage gap is everywhere….

  61. 61
    Lady raxterinok says:

    In a fewdays-ago BJ link to a story about a gay-friendly hotel set up by Falwell family and property owned by Falwell III and wife, the author of the story, who has published in several national magazine, was a grad of Liberty U and came out as gay there. The article about him that I found claimed that he was quite homophobic and implied he might not be terribly trustworthy.

    I’m sorry, I don’t remember the author’s name. Maybe someone here remembers the article I’m thinking of.

  62. 62
    Jerzy Russian says:


    I call them the Washington Foreskins” so that way nobody is offended.

  63. 63
    sigyn says:

    @trollhattan: Wasn’t it grandpa Falwell that killed someone’s cat and Fed. It. To. Him!

    Yep. I’ll try to back that up with a link

  64. 64
    dmsilev says:

    @Yutsano: I’m not particularly dogmatic on that question either. Like you, I generally put it in. I know some people who regard the question as a near-religious issue though.

  65. 65

    @afanasia: No, Trump’s just really cheep.

  66. 66
    Lady raxterinok says:

    @Patricia Kayden: IMO it was super easy to get Evangelicals to back Trump. Just promise anti-abortion and anti-homosexual judges!!

    Other Evangelical leaders to consider–Robert Jeffres of First Baptist of Dallas and Rodney Howard Browne, the South African preacher who appeared on the national Pentecostal scene with his ‘laughing ministry in 1989. (A connection between this ministry and the ‘Fall of the Berlin Wall’ in 89 was widely claimed by some!)

  67. 67
    Van Buren says:

    @poleaxedbyboatwork: Not till he blames Hillary first.

  68. 68
    Schlemazel says:

    Poor Melanoma, word is she has been summoned back to DC to spend Christmas Insensate Evil

  69. 69
    Lady raxterinok says:

    @schrodingers_cat: @Schlemazel: Fabio??

    The owners of a used bookstore I often went to had a life-sized standup poster of him placed prominently in their store.

    They thought he was ‘soooooo handsome.’

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:


    It was Rev. Jerry Sr.’s father. Explains a WHOLE lot about the level of abusiveness in that family. It almost made me feel sorry for Jerry Sr. to have been raised by someone that cruel.

  71. 71
    Lady raxterinok says:

    @M. Bouffant: IIRC the athletic director also has ‘inappropriate’ sexual incidents in his ‘resume’.

  72. 72
    Lady raxterinok says:

    @hells littlest angel: This info was in link in BJ coment several days ago that I mentioned earlier.

  73. 73
    sigyn says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yeah, hence “grandpa”; I should have been clearer. The second story at my link erased any stirring feelings of pity I had.

    It’s a ‘root and branch’ type of family.

    eta: whenever I am asked what’s the most monstrous thing you ever heard of… And Jerry Sr. admitted it “bordered on cruelty”.

  74. 74
  75. 75
    Shalimar says:

    @sukabi: I don’t have a link handy, but someone said a few weeks ago that Cohen had more than 3 clients. Only 3 were relevant to the government’s case against him and the attorney/client privilege claim at issue from all the seized records.

  76. 76
    JPL says:

    If a democratic candidate for president had stayed in the Hostel, they would be forced out. Falwell has some explaining to do.

  77. 77
  78. 78
    chris says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Well… yeah… but she’s not wrong.

  79. 79
    Mnemosyne says:


    People raised by cruel parents usually go one of two ways: they swear to be different than their parents and make an effort to do that, or they double down and become cruel themselves in a desperate attempt to normalize what happened to them.

    It’s sad that Rev. Jerry Sr. decided to take the path of normalizing cruelty and hurting other people the way he had been hurt, but that’s the choice he made.

  80. 80
    chris says:

    @debbie: Thank you! getting old couldn’t remember.

  81. 81
    Barry DeCicco says:

    @Corner Stone: “Among many things, this is the problem with Cohen. Not only does he lie non-stop, but the reason he’s doing 3 years even with a plea deal is because he didn’t cooperate to the level SDNY expected. I think we have to take any utterance he poops out, even in court, to be suspect at best.”

    I have an alternate theory, that he flipped on Trump 100%, but not the Russian mob. The FBI gave him three years for that. His publicly expressed relief was genuine, because it meant that he wouldn’t be whacked.

  82. 82
    sigyn says:

    @Mnemosyne: The older I get the more I realized how blessed I was by my good parents. The only adjustment I felt the need for was switching from spanking to no spanking.

  83. 83
    Elizabelle says:

    @hells littlest angel:
    @JPL: Thank you both.

  84. 84
    Mnemosyne says:


    Both my dad and my stepmom (who has raised me since I was about 10 since my own mom died when I was 7) were pretty damaged people, but fortunately they both chose to try and do better than their terrible parents did. They still screwed up a lot, but they did their best they could with the tools they had.

  85. 85
    Kathleen says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Visions of P-U-Litzers are dancing in her head.

  86. 86
    SRW1 says:

    $1.8 million? Isn’t that the tariff in conservanoble circles if someone gets someone preggers and that problem has to be, ahem, removed?

  87. 87
    trnc says:

    @Shalimar: Cohen had 10 (or more) clients in his solo practice. Perhaps one of the seven previously thought to be of no relevance was Falwell.

  88. 88
    rikyrah says:

    Cohen brokered the payment.
    So, whatever the reason, it’s blackmail material.
    Bet on it.😒😒🙄🙄

  89. 89
    Jay Noble says:

    @Mathguy: I’ve been seeing the banner ad for about the last week and a sidebar one now and then since then. Hey, if they want towaste their money here . . .

  90. 90
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @Emma: However, we at Libertine.com, are more than willing to film the whole thing. Yes, its pretty cliche, but our clients don’t mind., as long as its fresh. And by the way, we would like to make an offer to that pool boy as well. A lot of aging pool boys make a good living after its all over with us…

  91. 91
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    And believe it or not, the domain exists, and is unclaimed…..

  92. 92
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    It’s claimed, but inactive…

Comments are closed.