Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University presses stunt charges against journalists for reporting on coronavirus pandemic

by Editorial Team

Here’s that publicity you ordered, Jerry.

Liberty University, led by Jerry Falwell Jr., pressed charges against two journalists who covered the coronavirus pandemic on its campus, The Associated Press reported.

After the private university in Lynchburg, Va., questionably decided to allow students back on campus, both the New York Times and ProPublica sent journalists to campus to report on the results.

And when both outlets reported that some returning students had coronavirus symptoms, something that the university’s own health service leader confirmed, Falwell was upset.

So Liberty pressed charges against ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis along with Julia Rendleman, a freelance photographer who took pictures for The Times story.

Virginia Magistrate Kang Lee signed the arrest warrants for class 1 misdemeanors for criminal trespassing, according to the AP. The crimes are punishable by up to one year in jail.

Ignoring the irony, Falwell said having two outsiders on campus endangered the community given the spread of COVID-19, the AP reported. He claimed this despite more than 1,000 students living on campus as of Thursday.

Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison will decide whether to prosecute the cases, according to the AP. She said Thursday she hadn’t seen any case details.

Last month, Falwell defended the decision to allow students back on campus, saying people were “overreacting” to the pandemic. More than 16,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 and more than 95,000 people have died worldwide.


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