The rise and downfall of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker is the focus of a new 20/20 special titled “Unfaithfully Yours,” and in this exclusive clip from the episode, Ted Koppel recounts an interview with the Bakkers in the aftermath of their sex and financial fraud scandals.
The Bakkers’ PTL Club and religious empire was rocked in 1987 when it was revealed that Jim Bakker had used money from both the TV show and their Christian-themed park, Heritage USA, to negotiate a payment for a secretary with whom he had a sexual encounter. That secretary, Jessica Hahn, later accused Jim Bakker of rape.
In order to cleanly sever themselves from the religious enterprise, the Bakkers presented a list of demands to Jerry Falwell, who read the extravagant demands at a press conference covered by ABC News’ Nightline and then-host Koppel; the anchor later interviewed the Bakkers.
“There are certain interviews you just can’t not do,” Koppel says in “Unfaithfully Yours.” “Jerry Falwell at a press conference earlier that day had brought out this little note, handwritten from Tammy Faye. There was just a shopping list in which she’s sort of laying out, ‘Alright, you want us to go quietly, here’s what we want.'”
Koppel later asked Tammy Faye about the list — which demanded an annual salary for each of the Bakkers, as well as a lake house — and she didn’t deny it.
Jim Bakker was ultimately sentenced to 45 years in prison on charges of mail- and wire-fraud and conspiracy, although he only spent five years behind bars. Today, he’s the host of The Jim Bakker Show. Tammy Faye died of cancer in 2007.
The two-hour “Unfaithfully Yours” airs January 18th on ABC’s 20/20. The special features new interviews BeBe Winans, Pat Boone, actor Jim J. Bullock and actress Kristin Chenoweth, who is developing a musical based on Tammy Faye. The special also boasts never-before-seen archival footage of the Bakkers.