Right-wing media are trying to revive a debunked smear against Raphael Warnock

Opponents of Democratic Georgia Senate candidate Raphael Warnock are attempting to revive a previously debunked attack against him in conservative media ahead of the January Senate runoff elections.

In November, when it became clear that the runoffs in Georgia could potentially determine control of the Senate, right-wing media unleashed a number of attacks against Warnock. One such smear suggested the candidate was nefariously involved in a child abuse investigation that occurred at a summer camp run by Warnock’s church in 2002.

As noted by PolitiFact, Warnock and another minister were arrested for allegedly interfering with the investigation, but the charges — which a prosecutor later chalked up to “miscommunication” — were dropped, and state troopers reported that neither man was ever a suspect. Warnock has stated that he was attempting to ensure an adult was present while underage camp counselors were interviewed by the police, and the same prosecutor also noted that Warnock and the other minister were “very helpful” in assisting the investigation.

Despite the official record, right-wing media figures continue to press the attack.

During a debate on December 6, Warnock’s opponent Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) brought up the arrest, saying: “Reverend Warnock, you were arrested for obstructing police in the arrests in the child abuse investigation. Can you tell me the nature of this child abuse? Why were the police called? What was your knowledge or involvement in this incident?”

That same evening, Trump adviser Jason Miller promoted the attack in a tweet, which Donald Trump Jr. later retweeted. The next day, other right-wing media figures including One America News correspondent Jack Posobiec and Newsmax host John Cardillo tweeted about the incident.

The Washington Free Beacon also published an article on December 7 with information from the initial police reports of the arrest, claiming, “Warnock repeatedly disrupted child abuse investigation, reports say.”

Given the subject matter and sensationalized repetition of the allegations, the smear seems designed for pickup among the Republican Party’s growing contingent of QAnon supporters, who espouse a conspiracy theory claiming that President Donald Trump is fighting a cabal of satanic child abusers that controls the United States.