In today’s “boy, if you don’t ssssssit yo’ ass down” news, Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, said on Wednesday that arrest warrants have been issued for journalists from The New York Times and ProPublica for committing the unspeakable crimes of...doing their jobs.
According to Politico, photocopies of two arrest warrants posted on conservative radio host Todd Starnes’ website show that Falwell is seeking misdemeanor trespassing charges for Julia Rendleman, a freelance photographer for the Times, and Alec MacGillis, a ProPublica reporter, for being on campus while covering his widely criticized decision to reopen his school despite the dangers of the COVID-19 outbreak.
In other words, discount Colonel Sanders had his star-spangled pantaloons all in a bunch over news organizations reporting the news because said news isn’t very flattering to him and the display of abject dumb-assery that he calls leadership.
Instead of thinking to himself, “You know, maybe literally everybody is right and allowing over 5,000 students to return to campus—defying social distancing guidelines during a global pandemic—wasn’t such a good idea,” Falwell decided to pull the ultimate “I’d like to speak to your manager” move and get the authorities involved.
In fact, from now on, I’m just going to call him “Karen.”
Karen is a known supporter of President Donald Trump, and like Trump, Karen initially downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak, saying, just a month ago, that it was being “overblown.” He has even gone so far as to suggest that North Korea created the virus. If that isn’t some Trump xenophobia peddling shit, I don’t know what is.
So now, Karen has taken another page out of the Trump book of dealing with things like a spoiled child by lashing out at the media for being super mean to him.
But as my colleague and Managing Editor for The Glow Up Maiysha Kai said, “How about don’t do dumb shit, and we won’t report on it?”
Of course, Karen claims that his decision to have warrants served is all about protecting the students. According to Politico, he claimed there were “no trespassing” signs posted at “every entrance.” He also suggested that the journalists had probably come from coronavirus hot spots such as Washington, D.C., or New York and that they were putting Liberty students at risk by being on campus—the same campus he reopened in the first place.
But Richard Tofel, president of ProPublica, said he didn’t know anything about Karen’s warrant until he was made aware of it being posted on Starnes’ website.
David McCraw, in-house counsel for the Times, said that his photographer had been invited on campus by a student. McCraw also said in a statement that “Julia was engaged in the most routine form of news gathering: taking an outdoors picture of a person who was interviewed for a news story.”
“We are disappointed that Liberty University would decide to make that into a criminal case and go after a freelance journalist because its officials were unhappy with press coverage of the university’s decision to convene classes in the midst of the pandemic,” he added.
It’s possible that McCraw and Tofel are just finding out what black people have known for quite some time: White fragility is a hell of a drug.
Oh, and Karens love calling the police.