Who Would Jesus Sue? Liberty University Files a $10 Million Dollar Lawsuit Against the New York Times

On July 15, 2020 Jerry Falwell Jr announced on his Twitter feed that Liberty University filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against the New York Times. Jerry Falwell Jr has shown why he is a fool. May the New York Times have a rich process of discovery when it comes to Liberty University. 

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

Alexander Pope

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

Colossians 2:9-10 NIV

The is more happening to Liberty University that I learned about earlier today. Unfortunately I am part of the block party when it comes to Jerry Falwell Jr’s account on Twitter. Liberty University filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against the New York Times saying that it engaged in defamation in reporting about the COVID-19 pandemic at Liberty University. Also included in the lawsuit is $350,000 in punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and other costs. The money which will be acquired by Liberty will be donated to COVID-19 recovery non profits. This is how Jerry Falwell Jr broke the lawsuit on Twitter the other day.

Today @LibertyU sued @nytimes because they came to our campus from actual virus hotspots and made up completely false claims about COVID-19 cases at Liberty.

In fact we finished the school year without a single reported case of COVID-19 on campus.

— Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) July 15, 2020

 

The Basics of the Lawsuit

According to WSLS which is based in Roanoke and cover Lynchburg, Virginia this is how the lawsuit breaks down. 

The first, is a count of defamation against The Times and Williamson in connection with the March 29 article, “Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus Fears, Too.” The story’s original headline was “Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus Fears, Too.”

Second, is a count of defamation against The Times for it’s opinion piece, “This Land and Denial and Death,” which states:

What lies behind Republican science denial? The answer seems to be a combination of fealty to special interests and fealty to evangelical Christian leaders like Jerry Falwell Jr., who dismissed the coronavirus as a plot against Trump, then reopened his university despite health officials’ warnings, and seems to have created his own personal viral hot spot.Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Third, is a count of defamation, again, against The Times and Williamson. This isn’t in connection with any specific article, but the lawsuit states that overall, “The New York Times and Williamson made these statements with actual malice, with knowledge of their falsity and defamatory implications and/or with a reckless disregard for the truth.”

Lastly, a count of civil trespass was filed against The Times, Williamson and Rendleman. The lawsuit states that between March 23 and March 29, Williamson and Rendleman entered campus in defiance of the university’s March 23 trespassing mandate.

The university previously sought charges against Stefan “Alec” MacGillis, a politics reporter for ProPublica, and Rendleman regarding this, but later came to an agreement with the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney to not press charges.

 

Additional Statement by Jerry Falwell Jr.

Falwell claimed that the New York Times lied about COVID-19 and stated that no coronavirus infections occurred at either Liberty University or Lynchburg, Virginia. He also claimed that Liberty is targeted because it is conservative and their “Christian” faith. Here is the statement below according to WSLS. 

When there were no reported cases of COVID19 in the Lynchburg area yet, the New York Times sent a reporter and photographer from actual virus hotspots to violate our campus containment zone and make up a completely false claim that we had created a hotspot on campus. They target us because the University is a conservative and Christian institution.

While this fulfilled their ‘clickbait’ business model, it also violated the law in many ways.

Therefore, we are holding the New York Times accountable for their malicious and false reporting and their violation of the measures we took to protect our students.

Politically-motivated attacks by the mainstream news media that defame and libel conservatives and Christians should not be allowed in the United States of America and will not be tolerated by Liberty University.

 

Analysis of the Situation

There have been multiple situations of people bringing lawsuits against corrupt ministries. That has happened with Mark Driscoll, Sovereign Grace, and there is one pending against Liberty. However, in terms of corrupt religious ministries going after blogs, press, etc.. this from my knowledge is the second. You had the situation in Chicago where James MacDonald went after a Christian journalist and The Elephant’s Debt blog. I wrote about that in, “James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel Goes After The Elephant’s Debt Blog Accusing it of Defamation in a Lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, Illinois.” Hopefully the New York Times will use this lawsuit as a period of discovery about Liberty University. Imagine the stories they can find in poking around in the process of discovery. 

For me this lawsuit shows not only how much a bully Jerry Falwell Jr is, but his blithering incompetence. The fact that Falwell would want to open up his school to more scrutiny is going to create more problems for him. Problems that this blog will report on and write about. But there is another issue at play as well. Why is Jerry Falwell Jr a terrible liar? Jerry is saying that there were no cases of COVID-19 either in Liberty University or Lynchburg, Virginia. The health department at Liberty told The Daily Beast that they were doing COVID-19 tests and that nearly a dozen students had coronavirus symptoms. Liberty has been experiencing a lot of issues lately some due to Jerry Falwell Jr’s racist behavior. Those who want to learn more about Liberty’s problems can go back and check this blog’s archives and see more. This blog is actually looking for a story of any Liberty University student who has been infected by COVID-19 that would like to tell their story through this blog. Its time for people to abandon Liberty University as it has really no redeeming value. 

 

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