Republicans defending Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore against allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with teenage girls (including a 14-year-old) have reflexively turned to the standard formula these days whenever the media attacks a Republican: “It’s fake news.”
If the Washington Post exposé of the allegations against Moore is fake, then its owner Jeff Bezos has pulled off perhaps the greatest conspiracy in the history of the country.
Does any serious person believe that all the following could possibly have happened?
ThePost began organizing its fictional hit piece by scouring Moore’s past to find women he had demonstrably known when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers – none of whom had any connections to the Democrats, and none of whom had ever been seen together; and
In deciding to thwart the seemingly inevitable election of a powerful Republican Senate candidate, thePostasked his accusers to to avoid splashy allegations like forcible rape, but rather to say he made them touch him through his underwear and that he served them alcohol when they were underage;
ThePostcoached the women to share consistent, detailed, similar stories of Moore’s behavior, and convinced them to speak on the record for a story they knew would make world headlines and subject them to intense scrutiny.
If the Post story were fabricated by liberal media schemers to frame Moore and undermine his candidacy, the number of people implicated would be immense. The newspaper would have to trust each of them never to expose the sham, even though doing so would garner immense favorable publicity.
Consider this: the story’s three authors, all their editors, the women interviewed, and multiple other on-the-record sources confirming the reports would have to keep thePost’s secret. None could ever tell spouses, friends, or family members without widening the circle of people who could demolish the whole enterprise.
Further, every detail of the ruse would have to be so meticulously planned that no news outlet sympathetic to Moore could ever do its own research to expose the deceit.
Finally, if this scandal is fake news, at least a half-dozen Washington Post journalists with extensive experience and great resumes would have to care enough about destroying Moore to risk their entire careers and reputations. And Bezos would willingly gamble the lasting value of a brand he paid a quarter of a billion dollars to buy.
Now, maybe Roy Moore should get a pass for the alleged behavior described in the story. Maybe he’s a broken individual who has repented and deserves forgiveness. Maybe he’s a terribly flawed candidate who will nonetheless be a reliable vote on Republican legislation and conservative Supreme Court nominations. Heck, maybe like Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler said, if Joseph and Mary did the same thing – with the result being the Messiah – could it really be all that bad?
But it’s not fake news.