Liberty University President Wants Journalists Arrested

Photographer, reporter named in warrants following critical articles
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2020 9:17 AM CDT
Liberty University President Wants Journalists Arrested
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. talks to Donald Trump Jr. about his new book "Triggered" during convocation at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., on Nov. 13 2019.   (Emily Elconin/The News & Advance via AP)

The president of Liberty University, who last month suggested the media was inflating the threat of the coronavirus in an effort to damage President Trump, now says warrants have been issued for two journalists who visited his partly re-opened school. Jerry Falwell Jr. said Wednesday that the warrants apply to Julia Rendleman, a freelance photographer for the New York Times, and ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis, who are accused of trespassing on the Lynchburg, Va., campus, per Politico. Both the Times and ProPublica published articles critical of Falwell, who invited students to return to campus after spring break. Falwell says there is perhaps less than 10% occupancy on campus. But the Times article, written by Elizabeth Williamson, cited a physician as saying close to a dozen students had symptoms of COVID-19, with three students testing positive.

A statement from the evangelical school claims the doctor denied he'd ever said that, making the story "sensational click-bait." Falwell says he's pursuing the case as the journalists likely traveled from highly-affected areas, putting students at risk. He adds there are witnesses to the alleged trespassing, which occurred despite signs warning that only students, staff, and those with official university business would be permitted. The Times claims Rendleman was invited by a student. Falwell has additionally threatened to sue Williamson for defamation, arguing a magistrate judge didn't find enough evidence to charge her with trespassing. However, warrants published by a conservative radio host who interviewed Falwell come from the university police and boast no mark or signature indicating review by a judge or courthouse, per Raw Story. (More Liberty University stories.)

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