Liberty University files $10M defamation suit against NY Times, Falwell says they “made up completely false claims”

Wednesday Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. announced:

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.

TheHill reports Liberty University announced that it has sued The New York Times for defamation, accusing the newspaper of being factually incorrect in reporting regarding students on campus testing positive for COVID-19 in late March during the early stages of the pandemic.

The Mar. 29 stories in question from the Times, “Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus Fears, Too” and “A University Reopened, and Students Got Sick,” reported that about 12 students “were sick with symptoms that suggested Covid-19,” which the university vehemently calls false.

“There was never an on-campus student diagnosed with COVID-19,” Liberty, a private evangelical Christian school, said in the $10 million suit while filed Wednesday, accusing the Times of “clickbait.”

“Not only are they a bigoted bunch of liars, and also [a] BuzzFeedtype clickbait publication now,” Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. joined Fox News host Sean Hannity while mocking the paper for photographing and publishing “No Trespassing” signs on campus.

“But they’re also stupid, because they came on campus. We had 25, at least, ‘No Trespassing’ signs everywhere, and they were dumb enough to take pictures of the signs and publish them,” Falwell said.

“So we got warrants out for their arrest and they had to cut a deal with a local prosecutor to keep from going to jail,” he added. “That’s how dumb they are.”

The lawsuit also alleges the paper misrepresented a doctor quoted in its report and did not speak to Liberty University’s physician.

“I think they got their information from a doctor who has a practice 10 miles away from Liberty, who had seen a few Liberty kids who had a cold and upper respiratory problem. And none of it was anything like COVID symptoms,” Falwell explained. “He told the reporters to go and talk to our on-campus doctor at our clinic on campus, and they wouldn’t do it. They didn’t talk to us.”