Republicans rush to give alleged child molester Roy Moore the benefit of the doubt

On the allegations against Roy Moore, there are plenty of ifs, ands, and buts to go around.

U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at a rally, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Fairhope, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at a rally, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Fairhope, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

On Thursday, the Washington Post published an explosive report detailing multiple allegations against Alabama Republican senate candidate Roy Moore. Four women say that Moore sexually assaulted or harassed them when they were minors and Moore was in his 30s, working at the time as an assistant district attorney in Alabama. Moore quickly denied the report, calling it “fake news.”

The story was met with unqualified outrage and horror — with a few notable exceptions.

In the hours following the story’s publication, dozens of Republican lawmakers—many of whom previously endorsed Moore’s candidacy after he defeated Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in the Republican primary—couched their disgust with incredulity over the Post’s reporting, which cited more than 30 sources who said they were familiar with Moore and four women speaking on the record.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)

As of publication, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is the only Republican senator to issue a caveat-free statement calling on Moore to immediately step aside in the race.

Republicans have been preparing for a moment just like this for years. Conservative lawmakers and pundits have spent millions of dollars and countless interviews priming their voters to distrust the mainstream media, arguing over and over that news organizations like The Washington Post unfairly scrutinize conservatives and fabricate stories designed to make them look bad.

Some right-wing players also quickly moved to attack and undermine the women who come forward in these stories, working to protect an accused child molester in order to advance their political agenda. Breitbart didn’t even wait for the Post to publish its article before the far-right site began attacking Moore’s alleged victims.