Liberty University has filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against The New York Times for a "fictional tale" about the university's decision to stay open amid the CCP virus pandemic.
As universities and colleges across the country closed their campuses and ordered students to move out, Liberty announced on March 16 that students who wish to live in their residence halls were free to do so. Falwell said at the time that by keeping the campus open, Liberty would able to house all the international students who were unable to return home due to a travel ban, as well as commuter students who had no better place to live.
Falwell said in April that he was considering legal action against Rendleman, as well as ProPublica's Alec MacGillis, who allegedly entered Liberty's campus without permission. He also blamed the two for traveling there from where the pandemic was especially severe, putting the students living on campus at risk. He later came to an agreement with a local attorney to not press trespassing charges against them.
"When there were no reported cases of COVID-19 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," Falwell said in the July 15 statement, alleging that Liberty was targeted for being "a conservative and Christian institution."
"We are confident that our story accurately portrayed the reopening of Liberty University and the public health concerns that the reopening raised," Murphy said. "We look forward to defending our work in court."