‘MediaBuzz’ host Howard Kurtz explains how and why journalists and reporters in recent stories like the Roy Moore and Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandals get sources to go on the record.
The media tide is turning against Roy Moore as even some prominent voices on the right are urging him to drop out of the U.S. Senate race in Alabama.
The mounting allegations against the former judge have already undermined his attempts to paint himself as the victim of runaway reporting by the Washington Post. And whoever set up a robocall in Alabama from fictional Post scribe named “Bernie Bernstein,” offering money for dirt on Moore, is a moron.
The real Post, meanwhile, reports on two more accusers describing unwanted overtures by Moore when they worked at the local mall. One, a high school senior, said Moore pursued her at Sears, called her while she was in trig class, and eventually got “a date that ended with Moore driving her to her car in a dark parking lot behind Sears and giving her what she called an unwanted, ‘forceful’ kiss that left her scared.”
Alabama Media Group quotes another woman as saying that in 1991, when Moore was a married attorney, he grabbed her buttocks when she went there with her mother as part of a custody case. “He didn’t pinch it; he grabbed it,” the woman said.
Ivanka Trump, meanwhile, told the AP: “There’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children. I’ve yet to see a valid explanation and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts.”
All this is unfolding as there is a pronounced shift on the right. The Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial page, no fan of the Republican establishment, says Moore should drop out:
“Mr. Moore’s credibility has fallen below the level of survivability … The sensible move would be for Mr. Moore to step away from the campaign and allow Alabama’s Republicans to put forth a more credible candidate to run as a write-in against Democrat Doug Jones.”
And if he doesn’t, and President Trump doesn’t try to force him out, says the Journal, “then the GOP will be better off if Mr. Moore loses … Democrats and the media will make Mr. Moore the running mate of every Republican in 2018.”
Sean Hannity, who had withheld judgment on Moore—and conducted the only interview with him on his radio show—sounds ready to jump ship.
“For me, the judge has 24 hours,” Hannity told Fox viewers Tuesday night. “He must immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistency … You must remove any doubt. If you can’t do this, then Judge Moore needs to get out of this race.”
Hannity noted that when he asked Moore whether he had dated teenage girls, he said “not generally.”
But the tipping point may have been the presser held by Beverly Young Nelson, who said Moore locked her in a car and sexually assaulted her when she was 16. For one thing, we saw a woman on television choking back tears as she recounted what happened. But perhaps more important, Moore said he had never met Young—and yet he had signed her yearbook, at a time when he was 30: “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, D.A.”
For Alabama Media Group, publisher of the Birmingham News and two other papers in the state, this is a tipping point.
“Roy Moore simply cannot be a U.S. senator,” an editorial declares. “Even if his party and many of its adherents still think it possible, it is unthinkable–for his state, and his country.
“Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a consideration for the courtroom, not the ballot box. When choosing our representative before the rest of the world, character matters.”
So what does it mean that Moore has lost most of the media, the RNC, and Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan?
No one can force Moore out of the race. He’s on the ballot for the Dec. 12 special election. He owes nothing to Beltway Republicans who opposed him in the primary in favor of the appointed senator, Luther Strange. He’s still popular in Alabama and the latest poll has him a few points ahead of Democrat Doug Jones.
But does there come a point where so much of the media and political universe is aligned against you that it makes no sense to soldier on? Especially when McConnell is saying the Senate might refuse to seat him?
At a public appearance the other day, Moore asked: “Why do you think I’m being harassed from media and by people pushing forward allegations of the last 28 days of this election?”
The answer is that there are inconsistencies in his account. And Moore is losing even media figures who ordinarily would be staunchly behind him.