Yesterday, the Washington Post dropped a bombshell report about Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, who stands accused of initiating sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in 1979. In Alabama, that’s considered second-degree sexual abuse, and Moore may also have committed a felony in luring the minor into his house with the intent of pursuing sexual intercourse. (He also pursued relationships with other 16-to-18-year-old girls in his mid-30s, a technically legal but still sketchy pattern of behavior.) These are still just allegations, of course, but Nate Lerner summed up the credibility angle quite well:
To be fair, a handful of Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell and John McCain, denounced Moore without much hesitation. But for much of the political right, the response was a disgrace. Rather than condemn Moore's relationship with the young girl, conservatives of all stripes bent over backward to make excuses, to prevaricate, and to attack the credibility of the accuser rather than reckon with Moore's crime.
For posterity, here are ten of the most disgusting right-wing responses to the allegations—here's hoping we can learn something from their failure to summon even the faint appearance of decency. (And let me note here that an enormous amount of credit goes to the Toronto Star's Daniel Dale, who did some stellar reporting in the aftermath of the story breaking.) These are the tactics of men who have utterly lost their moral center.
1. Immediately cite a Democratic conspiracy
It's one thing for Republicans to accuse their rivals of foul play in the ordinary run of politics. It's quite another when serious claims of sexual abuse are at play. But rather than consider for even a moment that the allegations may be true, many shunted the truth aside and immediately went into truther mode. Unsurprisingly, Breitbart led the charge. Look at their headline, and notice how it invokes Jeff Bezos (liberal bogeyman!) and the fact that WaPo endorsed Moore's opponent (totally irrelevant) before it even mentions the accusations—along with the fact that they had already begun working with Moore to spin the story.
They weren't alone:
We can see an equally loathsome parallel of this on the extreme far-right corners of the Internet. At the Donald Trump reddit page, they're actually convinced it's a Republican conspiracy.
Not that it matters, but for the record, the Post got this story by accident, not some mastermind plan:
2. Claim that other than the pesky 14-year-old sexual abuse part, it was all above board
Even if you agree with this, which I don't, it requires outright ignoring THE SEXUAL ABUSE OF A 14-YEAR-OLD GIRL. Here's the Breitbart editor implying it's no big deal since it's only one really bad allegation:
And here's another credit to the state of Alabama:
3. Claim that it's fine because even with the 14-year-old, it was consensual
This is somehow worse than the one above:
Aside from the fact that the victim's description doesn't make it sound remotely consensual, even for an adult, this turns a blind eye to the very foundation of statutory rape laws: Minors cannot legally consent! That's the whole damn point! That's why this is sexual abuse!
4. Call the whole thing unimportant because a bunch of time has passed
Aka the Harvey Weinstein argument: “Sexual abuse is okay if it happened in the '70s.”
5. Simply say it's no big deal
Ladies and gentlemen, Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler:
What. The. Hell.
6. Justify Moore's actions by using the bible
Ziegler again, who really distinguished himself yesterday:
7. Put “molester of teen girls” below “Democrats” in your moral hierarchy
This was probably the most disturbing of all the reactions:
I guess this is what happens your moral compass has been irrevocably shattered by years of serving a self-interested, unapologetically cruel political agenda.
8. Play the victim in an attempt to raise money
This is beyond gross, from Roy Moore himself, who invoked Christianity, Clinton, and Obama in order to stoke his supporters into opening their pocketbooks:
9. Claim it's all a lie, but fail to even attempt to explain
“It's just not true. I can't tell you why, but I know it anyway.”
10. Straight-up lie to minimize the accusations
This is Alex Jones of InfoWars completely ignoring the real accusations, and essentially claiming that Moore was being attacked for telling girls they were “purty,” or that they “look good, honey.” As if that's not bad enough, he classifies the girls as “18 years old or whatever.” No, Alex, that's not what happened—he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old.
Read the entire creepy diatribe below, and please, when reacting to claims of sexual abuse, learn a lesson from these men.