On Tuesday night, Fox News hosts expressed concern that the defeat of Roy Moore — the Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama who has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women, several of whom were teenagers at the time — might result in President Trump being held accountable for the 14 sexual assault allegations that have been made against him.
That concern is legitimate — recent polling indicates that 70 percent of Americans want Congress to investigate the accusations against Trump, and Democratic senators are starting to publicly call for him to be held accountable. So perhaps it’s not a coincidence that on on Wednesday morning, Trump’s favorite show, Fox & Friends, went to ludicrous lengths to spin Moore’s loss as far away from the president as possible.
After host Steve Doocy mentioned that Trump endorsed two failed candidates for the Alabama U.S. Senate seat — first Luther Strange and then Moore — host Ainsley Earhardt insisted, “Jones caught a break when all these allegations came out against Judge Moore. The environment was really bad, the story I felt like was just horrific, it was hard for women especially to go to the polls and vote for him even though those allegations were just allegations, and even though it happened so long ago.”
Earhardt then abruptly asserted that Moore’s defeat wasn’t actually a referendum on the president — because in her view, Alabamans who voted for Doug Jones were actually voting against a liberal film producer who has recently been hit with a number of sexual assault allegations.
“This was not a referendum on Trump, I feel like it was a referendum on Harvey Weinstein,” she said.
Later, Earhardt downplayed Jones’ more than 20,000 vote margin of victory in typically deep-red Alabama as “not that much of a win.”
While Fox & Friends might want its viewers to believe that a U.S. Senate race in which Trump managed to endorse two losing candidates doesn’t reflect poorly on the president, exit polling indicates otherwise:
Share of voters who "strongly disapprove" of Trump → share of voters who backed the Democrat (per exit polls)
VA: 47% → 95%
NJ: 54% → 88%
AL: 41% → 97%
— Will Jordan (@williamjordann) December 13, 2017
Trump, who live-tweeted other segments of Wednesday’s edition of Fox & Friends, made his own desperate attempt to spin blame for Moore’s defeat away from himself on Wednesday morning. Following Moore’s lead, Trump framed the disgraced ex-judge as a victim, and suggested that Moore’s loss actually reflected the wisdom of his endorsement of Strange in the primary.
“The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election,” Trump tweeted. “I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”
The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017
Trump’s assertion that his endorsement of Strange caused “his numbers” to go up “mightily” is false. In fact, polling conducted prior to the primary election showed that Trump’s endorsement, if anything, caused Strange’s support to dip. The president must have realized as much: as soon as Moore prevailed, Trump deleted the tweets in which he had expressed his support for Strange.