Steve Bannon has been among Roy Moore’s most outspoken supporters. The website Bannon runs — Breitbart News — is doing its best to defend Moore on the heels of a bombshell Washington Post report containing allegations that he sexually abused a 14-year-old girl in 1979, when he was 32, and pursued relationships that included kissing with three other teenagers between 1977 and 1982.
Although Breitbart published Moore’s denials of these allegations, the outlet’s article in defense of the former judge primarily focuses on justifying the conduct described by the Washington Post. Breitbart’s piece argues there’s nothing wrong with 34-year-old “dating” someone less half their age or younger, as long as it is “romantic.”
Referring to allegations made by a woman named Debbie Wesson Gibson who says Moore pursued her when she was 17, Breitbart’s Aaron Klein notes that Gibson “is not cited making any claims of inappropriate sexual conduct.”
Klein then offers the following justification for Moore’s behavior: “In fact, [Gibson] characterized Moore as being romantic, reading poetry to her, and playing the guitar. The woman is cited saying that physical contact only involved kissing and did not progress any further.”
Breitbart: Maybe Roy Moore dated kids but if he did he was romantic and read them poetry pic.twitter.com/yVYDCFc6Gp
— Will Rahn (@willrahn) November 9, 2017
Another accuser, Thacker Deason, accused Moore of buying her wine when she was 18 — a year before she was of legal drinking age. But Breitbart notes that Deason “is not cited making any claims of inappropriate sexual conduct.” And while Deason claims that Moore first asked her out when she was 16, Breitbart dismisses that allegation on the grounds that a date didn’t happen at that time because “her mother would not allow it.”
Breitbart’s piece goes on to note that “[t]he most serious allegation comes from a woman [Wendy Miller] who claims that Moore engaged in sex acts with her when she was 14.” According to the Post, Moore repeatedly picked up Miller in his car and drove her back to his house. In one instance, Moore stripped down to his underwear and “kissed her” before he stripped her down to her underwear, and then tried to get her to touch him sexually.
The accuser told the Post that Moore “guided her hand to his underwear and that she yanked her hand back.”
Instead of trying to justify Moore’s conduct in that case, Klein notes that Miller didn’t tell her mother about Moore’s conduct until many years later.
Klein’s piece closes by suggesting that the Post has a political vendetta against Moore because the paper endorsed his Democratic opponent. The Post’s alleged conflict is highlighted in Breitbart’s headline: “After Endorsing Democrat in Alabama, Bezos’s Washington Post Plans To Hit Roy Moore With Allegations Of Inappropriate Relations With Teenagers; Judge Claims Smear Campaign.” As the headline alludes to, Breitbart was informed about the allegations contained in the Post story before it was published.
Klein’s article isn’t an instance of a Breitbart reporter going rogue. On Thursday afternoon, Breitbart editor Joel Pollak went on MSNBC and used similar talking points to defend Moore.
“The 16-year-old and the 18-year-old have no business in that story because those are women of legal age of content,” Pollak said, overlooking that it is a felony offense under Alabama law to entice a child younger than 16 to enter a home with the purpose of fondling, as Moore is alleged to have done to Miller.
Breitbart Editor: "There's only one relationship alleged that was problematic." pic.twitter.com/ZK8EV0Y3vn
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 9, 2017
After the MSNBC host pointed out that just because a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old are of legal age doesn’t mean that Moore’s behavior was justified, Pollak accused the Washington Post of pushing a “narrative” that “there’s this pattern of teenagers.”
Pollak went on to make a case that Moore should get a pass because only one allegation involved potentially criminals acts.
“As far as we know, there’s only one relationship that’s been alleged that’s problematic,” he said.