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Journalists Pens Lengthy Apology for Misrepresenting Liberty University’s COVID Response

We would be wise to take from this incident a reminder; a reminder that humility is a virtue that complements the truth.

In one of the more bizarre aspects of this global pandemic, we are beginning to recognize that some among us were quick to dole out shame and criticism where none was necessary.

We should remember that this is a novel illness that we as a species have only been dealing with for about six months, give or take.  The sheer amount of vitriolic drivel that was being spewed during this time had no real pedigree, and no basis in reality.  We all just took a stance, often vindictively, and told the rest of the world to come try knocking it off of our shoulder.

As the facts come to light, however, some who previously criticized others over their coronavirus efforts are changing their tune.

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This includes journalist Jerry Bowyer, who had previously lamented what he saw as an unfit response to the pandemic by Liberty University.  This week, Bowyer penned an op-ed in which he admitted that his concerns were unwittingly unwarranted.

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From that piece:

I didn’t publish any articles on the subject. It’s not my ‘beat’, but I did post some outrage on Facebook. But then something happened. A friend who actually works there, at the Fakirk Center, reached out to me personally. He didn’t Twitter bomb me, Facebook flame me, or denounce me. He simply privately reached out and reasoned with me. We engaged on the issue. He shared facts. I asked him to back up those facts. He did.

While that was going on, friends who had children at Liberty also posted comments, telling me that the article conflicted with their own direct experience. That, instead of a broad reopening, as the article had suggested, a small, targeted reopening focused on foreign students who had no place else to go was what they observed. More than one told me that Liberty was largely deserted, ‘like a ghost town’. As data actually was released from Liberty, it turns out that less than 1,500 out of 15,000 students were left on campus — and again, mostly foreign students.

Furthermore, Dr. Eppes came forward to deny the accuracy of the quote attributed to him.

All of this because Liberty University’s real-life statistics were extraordinary.

And then we waited to see the ominous warnings about a COVID breakout come to fruition. They did not. It’s not as though the press didn’t like the story. It’s not as though they would not have loved to hang Mr. Falwell from spires, and yet, with a hostile national press, none could confirm even a single case of the disease. The University said there were no confirmed positive cases, and no one in the world of MSNBCNNBC and WashPostTimes could come up with a single confirmed infection contracted on campus from this reopening. Some outbreak. This came nowhere near to the promising incipient participle in the sub-head about how students ‘started getting sick.’ Really? Before this, no students had any respiratory ailments? No colds or flus until Falwell ‘reopened’? So 11 students out of 1,500 had respiratory symptoms which the article claimed ‘were suggestive of COVID’. Suggestive how? Were the symptoms known to be idiosyncratic to this disease reported: trouble breathing, loss of sense of smell, dry cough? We’re not told.

We would be wise to take from this incident a reminder; a reminder that humility is a virtue that complements the truth.

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