For the past two years, reporters have been slowly dismantling the public persona of Baptist evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr., a "family values"-style Trump supporter with major political sway among evangelical voters.
Oddly, many of the stories about Falwell take place in Miami Beach, a full 900 miles south of Lynchburg, Virginia, where he heads the ultraconservative Liberty University. First, there was news in August 2017 that Falwell had helped his son Jerry "Trey" Falwell III purchase a "flophouse"-like hostel in South Beach. Then, in late 2018, it was revealed Falwell and his wife had, curiously, loaned $1.8 million to a hunky pool boy they'd met at the Fontainebleau. Earlier this year, the plot thickened when photos were leaked of Falwell and the pool boy at a resort in Islamorada. Additional photos, which have so far gone unpublished, supposedly show Falwell's wife Becki "in various stages of undress."
Today Politico published another detailed takedown of Falwell, written by reporter Brandon Ambrosino, an alumnus of Liberty University. Among other revelations is yet another embarrassing story from Falwell's time in Miami Beach. Ambrosino says he came across photos by World Red Eye showing Falwell partying at Wall, the nightclub inside the W South Beach, with his son and daughter-in-law. But when Ambrosino asked Falwell about the pictures, he straight-up denied the photographic evidence and suggested the images were Photoshopped:
In a statement on August 21, Jerry Falwell denied the existence of any photo of him at the club. "There was no picture snapped of me at WALL nightclub or any other nightclub," Falwell wrote. "I'm sure you already knew that though."
When told that I had obtained a photo of him for this article, Falwell said I was "terribly mistaken." "If you show me the picture, I can probably help you out," he wrote. "I think you are making some incorrect assumptions, or have been told false things or are seeing something that was photo-shopped."
According to Ambrosino, Falwell freaked out after learning there were photos of him at the club. Inside the bubble of Liberty University, coed dancing and drinking alcohol are no-nos. Falwell then apparently tasked a university IT staffer with essentially burying the photos in Google.
One of the wildest parts of my Q&A with Jerry Falwell. pic.twitter.com/UCyn0xbiHu— Brandon Ambrosino (@BrandonAmbro) September 9, 2019
Despite the prevalence of nondisclosure agreements on campus, Liberty employees who spoke with Politico say they're fed up with Falwell and can no longer remain silent.
"We're talking about the difference between right and wrong," one university official told Ambrosino. "Not even 'being a Christian,' but being a good person versus people who manipulate the system."