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Roy Moore

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  • Here are the excuses (so far) right-wing media figures are using for Roy Moore’s loss

    Blog ››› ››› SANAM MALIK

    On Tuesday, Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s special Senate election, becoming the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in the state in 25 years. Moore -- whose campaign was likely damaged by a litany of sexual misconduct allegations from multiple women, including a then-14-year-old girl -- had extensive support during the campaign from pro-Trump right-wing media. Following Moore’s defeat, some of these right-wing media figures reacted by giving an array of excuses for the loss, such as saying Fox News had a “vested interest” in the outcome, claiming supposed voter fraud, and attacking a GOP operative for allegedly leaking Moore’s sexual misconduct accusations to The Washington Post. Here’s a list of some of the excuses:

    1. Infowars host Alex Jones blamed Democratic voters "bused in those Democrat areas" to steal the election. And dead people.

    2. On his radio show, Sean Hannity blamed "the establishment pushing all this money into" Alabama, which made voters "sick and tired." Hannity was also critical of the "terrible campaign" the alleged child molester Roy Moore ran. 

    3. Fox political analyst Brit Hume blamed Breitbart.com chairman Steve Bannon, who extensively campaigned for Moore, for the Republican’s loss, stating Bannon was “a man we’ve been given to believe was a master political strategist. ... Maybe not.”

    4. Big League Politics, a far-right media blog that is connected to far-right media, claimed that there was “evidence of voter fraud” in Alabama election.

    5. Fox News co-host Ainsley Earhardt said Moore’s loss was “a referendum on Harvey Weinstein, not on President Trump.”

    6. Fox host Sean Hannity in a tweet blamed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for Moore’s loss, writing, “McConnell deserves a lot of the blame for Alabama."

    7. On Breitbart News Daily, co-host Alex Marlow blamed Fox News, alleging they had a “vested interest” in Moore losing.

    8. Bannon implied a GOP operative, who he claimed leaked Moore’s sexual misconduct accusations to The Washington Post, was a reason Moore lost.

    9. Alex Jones also claimed that there was “massive evidence of election fraud” in Alabama while also falsely claiming that Moore lost by only half a percentage point.

    10. TruthFeed, a fake news website connected to white supremacists, pushed Fox contributor Sebastian Gorka’s tweet which highlighted a report claiming that former independent conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin took money from an “anti-American Persian billionaire” to fund to ads attacking Moore. TruthFeed claimed it showed an “anti-American Arab bankrolled the Democrat win in Alabama.”

  • How adopting right-wing spin about Doug Jones' support for abortion access led media astray

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On December 12, Alabama voters elected Democrat Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate -- ending a 25-year streak in which Democrats were unable to win a single seat in the state. Jones’ victory put to rest weeks of media hand-wringing and speculation about what would be more offensive to Alabamians: Republican candidate Roy Moore’s reported sexual misconduct with teenagers when he was in his 30s or Jones’ allegedly “extreme” position on abortion.

    In November, The Washington Post reported multiple women’s accounts of experiencing inappropriate conduct from Moore when they were in their teens, including one account of Moore pursuing a 14-year old girl. A few days later, another woman reported that Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager. In response, Moore largely avoided granting interviews to media, with the exception of a few friendly outlets such as Breitbart and One American News Network. To counteract these reports, right-wing outlets began leveraging what they claimed were Jones’ “extreme” views on abortion access against allegations of wrongdoing against Moore.

    In reality, as Jones has explained, he supports upholding current Alabama law, which allows patients to seek an abortion up to 20 weeks of pregnancy with limited exceptions for “medical necessity” beyond that point. During a September 27 interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Jones stated that he was “a firm believer that a woman should have the freedom to choose what happens to her own body.” Despite this, many outlets not only adopted right-wing media’s inaccurate spin that Jones’ stance was “extreme,” but also went on to claim that Jones’ support for abortion access would ultimately cost him the election.

    From early in the campaign, right-wing media consistently pushed the talking point that Jones’ position on abortion access was “extreme.” For example, during the November 15 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Jesse Watters described Alabama voters as having to decide between Moore, who “may have done inappropriate things with young girls 40 years ago,” and Jones, who he claimed supported so-called “‘partial-birth’ abortion” (a procedure that doesn’t exist but was invented by anti-abortion groups to shame those seeking abortions). In another example, Fox’s Marc Thiessen tried to equate Moore’s predatory behavior and Jones’ stance on abortion by calling them “two extremes.” Beyond this, Fox hosts and contributors alike leveraged a variety of inaccurate claims about Jones’ position on abortion -- saying he was for “abortion on demand,” claiming he was “a person who supports abortion at every level,” or parroting that he supported “abortion through all nine months” of pregnancy. In a particularly ill-fated exchange on the night of the election, Fox's Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume predicted that Jones' support for abortion would be his undoing:

    Unfortunately, rather than debunking such obvious anti-choice talking points, some outlets instead adopted this right-wing spin about Jones.

    During a November 27 discussion on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough claimed that Democrats would be better off if they had run “somebody who were, let’s say, conservative to moderate on abortion … but with Democrats on 99 percent of the other issues.” The following day, a panel on Morning Joe continued this line of argument with MSNBC political analyst Elise Jordan stating that adopting an anti-abortion viewpoint “would have taken Doug Jones easily over the finish line.” Beyond Jordan’s claims, during the same discussion MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki also promoted the right-wing argument that Jones supported “no restrictions on abortion at all.”

    On CNN, contributor Stephen Moore also adopted the right-wing spin about Jones, arguing that he supported “partial-birth abortion, which a lot of people in Alabama think is tantamount to murder.” While at The Daily Beast, Matt Lewis speculated that Alabama voters may not be able to cast a vote for Jones because of his “extreme position on what many see as a definitive life or death issue.” Lewis concluded that Jones “would be in a much better position” to win if his views about abortion weren’t “so radical.”

    As election day drew nearer, other outlets continued to run with the argument that not only was Jones’ position “extreme,” but that it would also cost him the election. For example, The Boston Globe claimed that for Alabama voters, Jones’ stance was “a deal-breaker” and that if Moore was “running against a Democrat less doctrinaire on abortion, the revelations about Moore’s pursuit of young girls would likely have sunk his campaign.” NPR reported on December 8 that “for some Alabama voters, supporting abortion rights may be a sin worse than some of the sexual misdeeds Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore has been accused of.” On the night of the election, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd said that he’d been told that “if Doug Jones loses, it will be a one word answer: Abortion.”

    This is far from the first time that media have gotten carried away with the argument that support for abortion access costs votes or elections for Democratic or progressive candidates. In early 2017, The New York Times published an op-ed titled, “To Win Again, Democrats Must Stop Being the Abortion Party” -- kicking off wave of responses rebutting the false dichotomy that Democrats must sacrifice reproductive rights to win voters.

    As HuffPost reported on December 4, however, there was ample reason to believe that Jones’ support for abortion access wouldn’t be a hindrance. According to polling performed by Clarity Campaign Labs, “Abortion wasn’t really in the top couple issue” when likely Republican voters explained why they wouldn’t support Jones over Moore.

  • Reported child molester Roy Moore gets an A grade from the NRA

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    After staying quiet for most of the Alabama Senate special election campaign, the National Rifle Association has officially awarded Republican candidate Roy Moore an “AQ” rating.

    According to the NRA’s Political Victory Fund webpage for Alabama, Moore has an “AQ” rating, which the NRA reserves for “a pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the candidate's responses to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.” The NRA awarded Democratic candidate Doug Jones a “?” rating, which the group defines as “Refused to answer the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire, often an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners' and sportsmen's rights.”

    Based on a search of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, the rating was posted some time after December 8, and comes just after the NRA quietly spent more than $54,000 against Jones while at the time not mentioning the race on its Political Victory Fund website. The organization’s “AQ” grade also comes around the same time as the Republican National Committee restarted funding Moore after previously cutting the campaign off, and after Trump announced his official endorsement.

    On December 1, the Moore campaign claimed that the NRA is “on board with us now” after supporting his opponent, Luther Strange, in the primaries.

    Moore is accused of having inappropriate sexual relationships with multiple teenage girls, one as young as 14, while he was in his 30s, including attempting to rape a 16-year-old girl.

    Through regular monitoring of NRATV, the NRA’s broadcast platform, Media Matters can report that the Alabama Senate election has not been a regular topic of discussion. 

  • In final stretch of campaign, Roy Moore runs to friendly outlets to avoid questions of child molestation

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    In the last week leading up to today's special Senate election in Alabama, Republican candidate Roy Moore has avoided most media, granting interviews instead to friendly outlets including Breitbart and One America News Network. On the night before the election, Moore did one of these interviews with Breitbart.com chief Stephen Bannon at a rally where Bannon was campaigning for him. 

    Since December 4, Moore has given at least five interviews, none of which were to major mainstream media outlets despite the national attention the race garnered after Moore was accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with teenagers, including a 14-year-old girl. Moore granted one interview to Breitbart's Aaron Klein, one interview to Bannon at a Moore rally where Bannon was campaigning for him (Breitbart has been running defense to get him elected), one interview to pro-Moore outlet One America News Network, one interview to a local Alabama political talk show, and one interview to a “pro-Trump” 12-year-old girl in an interview arranged by an organization “formed by former Breitbart news staffers.”

    Moore has largely avoided the media since early November, when reports surfaced that Moore engaged in numerous inappropriate encounters with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Since those reports, pro-Trump media have generously supported Moore in an attempt to drag him across the finish line, helping him in his efforts to attack his accusers. Breitbart.com has led the pack, with Bannon campaigning extensively for Moore and the site going all in soon after the first reports of inappropriate contact with teenagers surfaced. Breitbart’s senior editor Joel Pollak has argued that Moore’s reported sexual relationships with teenagers were “perfectly legitimate.” And Breitbart has even rented out its email list to the Moore campaign, which sent fundraising emails to Breitbart’s subscribers on at least four occasions.

  • Roy Moore’s email fundraising has heavily relied on Breitbart.com

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Roy Moore’s Senate campaign has heavily relied on Breitbart.com for support in its email fundraising. The Alabama Republican has used Breitbart’s logo and headlines in at least a dozen emails in the past several months and has rented Breitbart’s email list in at least four instances.

    Breitbart.com has allied with Moore’s campaign in the lead-up to today’s special election in Alabama. The site has fear mongered about felons who are allowed to legally vote and progressive philanthropist (and prior Media Matters donor) George Soros. The site has also repeatedly defended Moore against numerous reports about his sexual misconduct, including assault.  

    Moore has publicly praised Breitbart’s role in the race, telling Bloomberg’s Joshua Green that site chairman Stephen Bannon is “the counter to the ‘fake news’ -- he’s been a stalwart … It’s helped us a lot. He’s the master strategist.” Vox’s Brian Resnick reported that Moore campaign talking points primarily cite Breitbart.com as “evidence that the accusations are untrue.”

    Breitbart has had an especially prominent place in Moore’s online fundraising efforts. The site’s logo and pro-Moore headlines have appeared at the beginning of at least a dozen emails since September, according to a Media Matters search of a subscribed account (click here for a larger image): 

    The Moore campaign has also rented Breitbart.com’s mailing list at least four times since November. In one instance, a Moore/Breitbart email included a Breitbart headline:


    Media Matters previously documented that the Moore campaign recently sent a fundraising email that relied on Breitbart’s false claims that a woman who said the Alabama Republican sexually assaulted her had admitted she forged her evidence.

  • How cable news covered Trump's robocall in support of reported child molester Roy Moore

    CNN and MSNBC repeatedly aired Trump’s pro-Roy Moore robocall

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On the eve of Alabama's special election, CNN and MSNBC repeatedly aired President Donald Trump's robocall in support of reported child molester and Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

    In early November, The Washington Post reported the stories of several women who said that Moore pursued sexual encounters with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. Since then, other women have come forward with their own stories of sexual misconduct by Moore. Trump, who himself has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by numerous women, has thrown his full support behind Moore, including recording a robocall in which he urges Alabama voters to “go vote for Roy Moore,” because “if Alabama elects liberal Democrat Doug Jones, all of our progress will be stopped cold.” Trump adds, “We need Roy to help us with the Republican Senate.”

    On December 11, the day before the special election, CNN and MSNBC repeatedly aired audio of Trump’s robocall throughout the day, occasionally also airing portions of Trump’s pro-Moore rally as well.

    Overall, throughout the course of the day, CNN aired portions of Trump’s pro-Moore, anti-Jones robocall nine times. MSNBC aired portions of the robocall seven times, and Fox News aired portions of the robocall twice.

    While MSNBC and CNN often presented the ad in the context of noting that the president is throwing his support behind a reported sexual predator, the networks nonetheless repeatedly broadcast Trump's closing pitch to Alabama voters to their viewers. In effect, they were giving a wider audience to a major political ad for Moore.

  • Roy Moore uses Breitbart “forgery” lies to raise last-minute funds

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Senate candidate Roy Moore sent a fundraising email that relied on Breitbart.com’s false claims that a woman who said the Alabama Republican sexually assaulted her had admitted she forged her evidence.

    Breitbart.com has been conducting an all-out campaign for Moore in the lead-up to the state’s December 12 special election. Moore told Bloomberg’s Joshua Green that site chairman Steve Bannon is “the counter to the ‘fake news’ -- he’s been a stalwart … It’s helped us a lot. He’s the master strategist.” Breitbart has especially been running cover for Moore from reports about his sexual misconduct, including assault. Vox’s Brian Resnick reported that Moore campaign talking points cite Breitbart.com as “evidence that the accusations are untrue.”

    Beverly Young Nelson has said that Moore sexually assaulted her when he was in his 30s and she was 16. As evidence, Nelson has shown a yearbook which she said contains Moore’s signature and a message from him. Nelson recently said that she added some notes following the inscription and his signature.

    Right-wing media outlets such as Breitbart, The Gateway Pundit, and Fox News have twisted Nelson’s remark to claim she admitted that she “forged” her evidence. In reality, as PolitiFact and others have noted, “Nelson does not claim she tampered with Moore’s actual signature. She said she added a time and location below the signature. Nelson still attributes the note and signature to Moore.”

    Moore’s campaign has used the right-wing media disinformation about Nelson’s statement to raise campaign funds.

    He sent a December 9 fundraising email attacking Nelson for purportedly admitting “to fabricating portions of the yearbook” and claimed the “liberal media” is refusing to cover the story but “some conservative and alternative news sites are picking up on it.”

    Moore’s email touted the false Breitbart.com stories “Limbaugh on Roy Moore Yearbook Inscription: ‘The Perp Has Admitted She Forged It’” and “Don Jr. Blasts Gloria Allred After Bombshell Admission of Forgery.” From the email (highlights in original):

    He later added: “So won't you please chip in a donation to help me bust through the media blackout and get the truth out to voters across Alabama?”

    Moore’s campaign Facebook page shared the false Breitbart story “Bombshell: Roy Moore Accuser Beverly Nelson Admits She Forged Yearbook.” Moore’s Twitter account also tweeted out Fox News’ false claim -- since corrected -- that Nelson admitted “she forged part of yearbook inscription.”

    The pro-Moore Club for Conservatives PAC also used Breitbart to fundraise in a paid email through Breitbart’s mailing list. The PAC, which has a mysterious background, sent a December 9 email with the false Breitbart headline: “Bombshell: Roy Moore Accuser Beverly Nelson Admits She Forged Yearbook.” That fundraising email also contains a picture of Steve Bannon with Moore.