I feel compelled today to take a few minutes to defend my friend Jerry Falwell Jr. The Liberty University president has come under fire recently as stories ballyhooed by the liberal media have portrayed Jerry as a higher education dictator. Worse, they’ve also raised eyebrows about his finances and personal life.
I’m rising in Jerry’s defense because he’s the only university president in all of America whose personal cell number is in my smartphone. He always picks up my calls or calls me back quickly.
This time, I didn’t bother because I didn’t want to add to the pressure and angst Jerry must be feeling. According to a (Lynchburg) News & Advance story Friday, Jerry is threatening lawsuits and has asked the FBI to help fight “an attempted coup” against him waged by shadowy forces trying to oust him from Liberty.
Also on Friday, more than two dozen Liberty students demonstrated against Jerry on campus. That’s about as common as the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.
The negative press began in June and involves a wide variety of characters. One is Michael Cohen, the imprisoned former attorney and “fixer” for President Donald Trump. According to the Miami Herald, Cohen did a favor for Jerry by burying some racy personal photos of Jerry’s wife, Becki Falwell.
Then there was a pool boy Jerry and Becki met in Miami in 2012. The following year, Jerry set up that handsome twenty-something young man as a part-owner and manager of a $4.6 million South Beach hostel. The business venture ended up in court.
A third character is another young man, Jerry and Becki’s personal trainer, Ben Crosswhite. According to Reuters wire service, Liberty University sold Crosswhite an 18-acre athletic facility worth $1.2 million. That transaction included a Liberty University leaseback arrangement, which meant Crosswhite got the property for $580,000.
The most recent story appeared Monday in the online publication Politico. The title is “ ‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’: Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Silence.” It’s the longest and most gossip-filled one of all. In Jerry’s defense, I urge you to approach it with great skepticism.
One reason is, the Politico article was reported and written by a graduate of Liberty University. No offense intended to the author or to any Liberty alumnus, but Liberty is hardly the most discriminating institution in higher education.
Counting online enrollment, it has about 110,000 students, which suggests the university will accept just about anyone with a pulse. Harvard it ain’t, and it isn’t even the University of Virginia, where Jerry earned his law degree.
Let us consider for a moment certain anecdotes in the Politico story. A few are positively lurid. For a multitude of reasons, all of them strike me as fishy.
For example, the article cites “multiple current and former university officials,” complaining that Jerry is “very, very vocal” about his sex life with his wife, whom he married in 1987.
How absurd. Married men don’t brag about scoring with their wives. That’s like boasting about eating a hamburger at McDonalds. It’s also ludicrous because after 32 years of marriage, there’s little to be vocal about. Just ask any couple married that long.
One of those sources, whom Politico called “a senior university official who has since left Liberty,” said that about a decade ago, Jerry bragged about his, um, size.
I don’t believe that for a second, and neither should you. Jerry’s a Christian, after all, and the Holy Bible repeatedly cautions us against boasting. Besides, recall the commandment against bearing false witness. Jerry would never lie.
Yet another source, whom Politico characterized as “a longtime Liberty employee with firsthand knowledge,” claimed that Jerry accidentally texted several people “a photo of his wife wearing what appeared to be a French maid costume.” According to Politico, the source said the picture was intended only for Crosswhite, the personal trainer.
Jerry denied that rumor to Politico thusly: “I never had any picture of Becki Falwell dressed in a French maid uniform, and never sent such a non-existent photo to Ben Crosswhite.”
Of course not. That little nugget seemed highly specious from the get-go. In smartphone picture, how the heck could the source discern it was a French maid’s outfit, anyway? It could have been a Belgian maid’s costume, or the uniform for a Danish maid. You can’t tell it’s French on one of those little screens. Jeesh!
By far the biggest problem with the Politico story is that not one of those sources is named.
Everybody knows that anonymous sources are often unreliable, frequently have agendas and should not necessarily be believed. A case in point is the most famous one of all, “Deep Throat.” Recall when he told The Washington Post that President Richard Nixon was a crook? Pure poppycock!
For all those reasons, I urge everyone reading the anonymous gossip in Politico to take it with a grain of salt, or less.
Jerry, though, could be onto something. There might indeed be a “Deep University” campaign being unfairly waged against him by a bunch of vicious Christian leakers seeking his ouster by feeding terrible lies to a gullible press.
When you think about it for a moment, you can see certain similarities to what President Trump’s been going through on a far bigger scale — first with the Trump-Russia investigation and more recently with members of the House of Representatives whispering impeachment.
On the brighter side, perhaps this will strengthen the bond between Jerry and the president. It’s not hard to imagine Trump coming to Jerry’s aid by issuing a tweet declaring all the recent the reports about Jerry “fake news.” That would settle it, eh?
After all, President Trump is likely well aware the good book warns about tempests like this. It’s right there in Trump’s favorite bible chapter.
“I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder,” says 2 Corinthians 12:20.
In Washington, sure — and now in Lynchburg.