Jerry Falwell Jr. Floats Conspiracy Theory That Coronavirus Is North Korean Bioweapon

President Donald Trump and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. at LU's commencement ceremony on May 13, 2017. (Photo: detail from official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, appeared on President Donald Trump’s favorite morning news show “Fox & Friends” Friday and floated various conspiracy theories about the coronavirus that would absolve Trump of fault for his administration’s handling of the disease, which was declared a pandemic ​by the World Health Organization Wednesday.

Fox & Friends invited Falwell Jr. on to speak about the recent wave of college campus closures in response to the coronavirus and to explain why Falwell Jr.’s school had decided not to cancel in-person classes like other schools across the nation. (Liberty University has, however, canceled all international travel in response to the coronavirus.) Falwell Jr. responded by downplaying the threat of the disease and positing conspiracy theories because it struck him as “strange” that “so many” people were—as he put it—”overreacting” to the pandemic.

“It makes you wonder if there’s a political reason for that. You know, impeachment didn’t work, and the Mueller report didn’t work, and Article 25 didn’t work, and so maybe now this is their next attempt to get Trump,” Falwell Jr. said. (By Article 25, Falwell Jr. appeared to be referencing the 25th Amendment, which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had discussed invoking to remove Trump from office for being unfit.)

Falwell Jr. continued, “I had the owner of a restaurant ask me last night—he said, ‘Do you remember the North Korean leader promised a Christmas present for America back in December? Could it be they got together with China and this is that present?’ I don’t know, but it really is something strange going on.”

The Liberty University president is among Trump’s most fervent evangelical supporters, appearing at events alongside the president and hosting top Trump administration officials and Trump’s family members for events at his campus.

Falwell Jr. is also well-connected in Trump-supporting Republican circles. Last year, Turning Point USA president and founder Charlie Kirk teamed up with Falwell Jr. to launch a think ​tank at Liberty University called the Falkirk Center. It bore a mission statement that read: “Bemoaning the rise of leftism is no longer enough, and turning the other cheek in our personal relationships with our neighbors as Jesus taught while abdicating our responsibilities on the cultural battlefield is no longer sufficient.”

But Falwell Jr.’s appearance on Fox News this morning isn’t Liberty University’s first head-on collision with conspiracy theories. The university produced a documentary about the QAnon-obsessed conspiracy theorist and “firefighter prophet” Mark Taylor in 2018. That same year, a Liberty University professor said that the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory was “worthy of FBI investigation.”