Liberty U President Falwell Denies Wrongdoing in Not Publishing Anti-Trump Piece in School Paper
Critical Views of Trump Represented in Student Paper, Says Evangelical School
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell is denying that he prevented an op-ed critical of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump from being published in the school newspaper.
Liberty gained headlines for declining to publish a column in the Liberty Champion by their sports editor that denounced Trump for his "locker room" comments against women.
Sports editor Joel Schmieg posted the unpublished column on Facebook on Tuesday, adding to it the accusation that Liberty President Jerry Falwell, Jr. stopped his column from being published.
In a statement emailed to The Christian Post by a Liberty University spokesperson on Wednesday, President Falwell said that the column was not published because it mirrored another submission that was printed.
"The paper already had a letter that was very similar in content supporting Hillary Clinton and condemning Donald Trump for the 2005 video," stated Falwell.
"The two letters were redundant so an editorial decision was made to go with the other letter, which [was] written by a medical student, because it did not come from a staff member but an independent reader."
The Liberty spokesperson added that the Schmieg submission came after the editorial board of the Champion had already decided to run the letter to the editor.
"Editorial decisions are made by the student editorial staff in consultation with the staff advisor and the publisher representatives routinely on every edition," explained the spokesperson.
"President Jerry Falwell is consulted occasionally by editors when he is quoted and when use of his name has the potential for confusion between institutional and personal viewpoints."
The Liberty University spokesperson also maintained that student viewpoints on Trump was all "fairly represented in this week's Champion."
"Space allocation always requires editorial judgment and that judgment simply does not allow for repetition," continued the spokesperson statement.
"This was discussed with Mr. Schmieg and the University is at a loss for why he seems to have not recalled or understood these facts and circumstances."
In recent weeks Liberty University's student body has been especially vocal about their opposition to Trump, citing among other things crude remarks he made back in 2005 that were released earlier this month.
A group of students calling themselves Liberty United Against Trump released a statement denouncing Falwell's support for Trump, finding it misrepresentative of the school and Christianity in general.
"Associating any politician with Christianity is damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Donald Trump is not just any politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins," stated LUAT.
"Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose."
In response to the LUAT statement, Falwell stated while he was "proud of these few students for speaking their minds" and LU "promotes the free expression of ideas unlike many major universities where political correctness prevents conservative students from speaking out," he took issue with some of their claims.
"The student statement also falsely claims that I am 'touring the country' and associating Liberty University with Trump," stated Falwell earlier this month.
"The fact is, I traveled with the Trump campaign only one weekend in January, and I always make it clear to the media that my endorsement of Trump is my personal endorsement only and that I am not speaking for Liberty University, its students, faculty or staff."
On Tuesday the Daily Beast posted a story about the column not being published, with the publication saying that "Schmieg says he doesn't know exactly what he wrote that made Jerry Falwell Jr. cut his article out of the Liberty University school newspaper."
"He just said that the school's president told his editors his story criticizing Donald Trump couldn't run," reported Daily Beast.
The Daily Beast interviewed Schmieg, who said that "most people are unhappy with Trump and Jerry's endorsements of him" and that Falwell is known to cut things he takes issue with from the Champion.
"I know it happens. I don't know how often. I know, at the very least, he might take something from the opinion section and delete a paragraph," Schmieg told Daily Beast.
The Christian Post attempted to reach Schmieg for comment but did not hear back by press time.