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)
MCCONNELL: "If these allegations are true, he must step aside."
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 9, 2017
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
Shelby on Moore: if true he doesn’t belong in the Senate.
— Jim Newell (@jim_newell) November 9, 2017
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
If there is any shred of truth to the allegations against Roy Moore, he should step aside immediately.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 9, 2017
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
.@SenToomey on Roy Moore: “If there’s a shred of truth to it then he needs to step aside.”
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) November 9, 2017
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
NRSC chair @CoryGardner statement:
“If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.”
— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) November 9, 2017
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
If there is any truth at all to these horrific allegations, Roy Moore should immediately step aside as a Senate candidate.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) November 9, 2017
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
Rob Portman on Roy Moore:
"I think if what we read is true, and people are on the record so I assume it is, then he should step aside."
— Dylan Scott (@dylanlscott) November 9, 2017
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
Mike Lee, who endorsed Moore after the primary, says "“If these allegations are true, Judge Moore should resign”
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) November 9, 2017
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)
JUST IN: Sen @SteveDaines , who endorsed Roy Moore: “These are very serious allegations and if true he should step down”
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) November 9, 2017
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.
The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) November 9, 2017
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.