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Taking Liberties with Falwell and Trump

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Steve Helber

Did you hear the good news? 

Liberty University, which the media predicted would be Ground Zero for a deadly outbreak of coronavirus, has not reported a single on-campus case. Not one.


This is welcome news to any person of goodwill. But not to the press.

In March, the media went bat crazy, essentially accusing Liberty President Jerry Falwell, Jr. of risking mass murder by welcoming some students back from spring break. 

The New York Times headline on March 29 was “Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus, Too.” 

No, it did not.  Most students stayed home.  Mr. Falwell welcomed back to the dorms those students who would have put themselves more at risk by traveling, especially those from overseas. The college followed strict health guidelines such as social distancing and recommended that students use online programs. 

On March 30, the Washington Post ran an editorial, “Irresponsible decisions like Jerry Falwell Jr.’s put untold numbers of people at risk.” They cited the New York Times’s contention that about a dozen Liberty students “were sick with symptoms that suggested COVID-19.”

It turns out that the students had common colds or the flu or something other than COVID-19.  Only one student tested positive, and he was living off-campus.  

Several other universities, such as Rutgers, Pepperdine, Valencia and Texas A&M, introduced similar policies, but only Liberty was singled out for a press whipping. 

Well, why not? The media have hated the college since 1971 when Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell Sr. established it to give Christians an alternative to “mainstream” academia. The sad truth is that most colleges have morphed into Marxist hothouses where U.S. history courses have given way to transgender studies, multiculturalism and identity politics, and where students learn to despise their country. 


Liberty offers a traditional curriculum, attracting students from all over the United States and abroad, making it one of the largest private universities in America. With 15,000 students on campus and 100,000 students online, Jerry Falwell’s dream has become a nightmare for the progressive Left.

Added to the mix is Jerry Falwell Jr.’s outspoken support of President Trump, before and after his election.  Mr. Trump was Liberty’s commencement speaker in 2017. On the other hand, Mr. Falwell’s sometimes Trump-like retorts to critics may indicate that the New York wise guy could be influencing Mr. Falwell more than the other way around. 

But we can’t get into either man’s head and see their actual mindset. Unlike the press, that is.

On May 17, Washington Post editors looked into their handy replica of Mr. Trump’s right-hand palm, read the lines, and came up with this in the Sunday Outlook section: “Covid testing is about saving lives. Trump thinks it’s just about numbers," says journalist Fintan O’Toole.”   

In the same edition, fellow soothsayer Ruth Marcus’s column was headlined: “To Trump, winning is all that matters.” Really? He has no other motives? And he only thinks about numbers?

Well, what do you expect from a very bad man with orange hair, as he’s depicted each week in the Post comics section by Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who is hopelessly locked in a “Hate Nixon” mode updated to the Trump era?  


To underscore Mr. Trump’s assumed moral turpitude, the Post (and we’re still working on the May 17 edition here) sent reporters all the way to West Java, Indonesia so they could produce a two-page spread with a big color picture of a construction site. The headline: “Trump’s business partner in Indonesia exhumed graves in West Java to build resort.”  

Perhaps this is actually newsworthy.  It’s usually the Democrats who commune with the dead, especially around Election Day.

Well, if the Russian collusion smear didn’t work, and the Ukraine phone call impeachment attempt is collapsing into a Biden disaster, why not go for guilt by association? Talk about digging for a scandal. 

Back on Page One, the Post accused Mr. Trump of a “retaliatory purge” because he fired the State Department inspector general who had apparently been more at home when Mr. Obama was in the White House.

Finally, the lead editorial on May 17, “The absurd cynicism of ‘Obamagate,’” claims that “Mr. Trump would like to rewrite history, making it seem as though the Russian investigation lacked firm grounding and that a sinister Obama Administration plot explains the misdeeds that his own people committed.”

Why, yes, that’s where the evidence has led, with the FBI being exposed for its persecution of Gen. Flynn and its “Crossfire Hurricane” plan to prevent or cripple the Trump presidency. 


If you thumbed all the way through the May 17 edition of the Post, you would be convinced that we are in the grip of a power-mad authoritarian president.  But what a difference a day makes.

On May 18, the Post’s front page had this: “In next phase of pandemic, Trump appears posted to let others take the lead.”  Shrinking presidency?

Well, which is it? Is he an overreaching authoritarian or a shrinking president?

Likewise, will we ever learn whether Jerry Falwell Jr. has psychic powers like a Post writer, or was he just lucky that he was right about the coronavirus policy? 

Inquiring readers may never know.

Robert Knight is a Townhall contributor. His website is roberthknight.com.

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