Jerry Falwell Jr. Warns Journalist Who Reported on Coronavirus at Liberty University: ‘You’re in Some Serious Trouble’
Jerry Falwell Jr. left a voice mail message that warned a New York Times journalist who exposed the cornavirus crisis at Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia:
You’re in some serious trouble.
Falwell accused New York Times journalists of putting his students at risk because they traveled from New York City to Lynchburg to do a story about how Falwell urged thousands of students to return to campus dorms after Spring Break, which was at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.
New York Times journalist Elizabeth Williamson noted the timeline of the pandemic on April 16:
Since March 29, when the first case was diagnosed in a Liberty student living off-campus, confirmed coronavirus cases in the Central Virginia health district, which surrounds Lynchburg and Liberty, have grown from seven to 78.
One person has died. On Tuesday, a Lynchburg city police officer tested positive, forcing another officer into quarantine and setting off a furious effort to trace all of the infected officer’s contacts…
Amid those struggles, a Liberty student on Monday filed a class-action lawsuit in a federal court in Virginia, saying that Liberty and Mr. Falwell had “placed students at severe physical risk and refused to refund thousands of dollars in fees owed to them for the Spring 2020 semester,” according to a statement from the law firm filing the suit...
The media, [Falwell] said in a radio interview with John Fredericks, who identified himself as a Trump campaign operative, “just want power, they’re authoritarian, they’re like nothing I’ve seen since, if you go back in history, to Nazi Germany. That’s what they remind me of.”
Falwell publicly downplayed the threat of the coronavirus and even floated a conspiracy theory about the deadly virus being a plot by China and North Korea “to get Trump.”
Falwell Jr. told former Fox News radio host Todd Starnes on April 8 that he was pressing criminal charges against a New York Times freelance photographer and the award-winning news site ProPublica for allegedly trespassing on campus while covering the cornavirus crisis on campus, notes Talking Points Memo.
Falwell also promised “civil action” against New York Times reporter Elizabeth Williamson and NBC News, along with NBC News journalists, Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins for alleged defamation.
Williamson interviewed the campus doctor Dr. Thomas W. Eppes Jr. who recalled his conversation with Falwell prior to the students return:
“We’ve lost the ability to corral this thing,” Dr. Thomas W. Eppes Jr. said he told Mr. Falwell. But he did not urge him to close the school. “I just am not going to be so presumptuous as to say, ‘This is what you should do and this is what you shouldn’t do,’” Dr. Eppes said in an interview.