(RNS) Liberty University junior Joel Schmieg penned a column for the school newspaper criticizing GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, but President Jerry Falwell Jr. rejected it.
“I was told he was not allowing me to express my personal opinion in an article I wrote for my weekly column in the Liberty Champion about Trump and his ‘locker room talk,’” Schmieg, 20, wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Oct. 18) that included the commentary he said was rejected.
In an interview Wednesday, Schmieg said his editor-in-chief was told by Falwell to not include the commentary about the 2005 video revealing Trump’s statements about women due to limited space in the Tuesday edition.
According to the email exchange, posted on refinedright.com, Falwell directed the editor to “get rid of the one by the male athlete about the videotape” but use a commentary by a medical student instead.
In a statement, Falwell said the university is the owner and publisher of the Liberty Champion and regularly decides about editorial content.
“The paper already had a letter that was very similar in content supporting Hillary Clinton and condemning Donald Trump for the 2005 video,” he said. “The two letters were redundant so an editorial decision was made to go with the other letter, which was written by a medical student, because it did not come from a staff member but an independent reader.”
The world’s largest Christian university has been heavily involved in the 2016 election season, with its president voicing personal support for Trump and recent appearances by GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. The student body president has said most students support Trump but a petition from students decrying Trump’s statements claimed otherwise.
Schmieg, the newspaper’s sports editor, said he received more positive than negative responses to his Facebook post. But the music major, who said he plans to vote for independent candidate Evan McMullin, thinks it’s impossible to know which candidate is receiving the most support from Liberty students.
“I don’t think there’s really any way to tell what the majority is,” he said.