GOP Senate nominee attempts to preempt bombshell sexual misconduct report by leaking news to Breitbart

  • Breitbart News broke the news Thursday that The Washington Post would publish a damning bombshell story about Roy Moore.
  • The Washington Post reported that Moore, the GOP Senate nominee in Alabama, had once engaged in sexual misconduct with a teenager.
  • Breitbart continued to defend Moore, whom the publication backed in the primary. 

Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore’s camp on Thursday appeared to preempt news of a bombshell Washington Post report by leaking details to sympathetic right-wing outlet Breitbart News.

The Washington Post reported that Moore, the GOP’s nominee for Alabama’s special Senate election this year, had initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32 years old.

Minutes before the story dropped, Breitbart News published its own story previewing the Post’s bombshell. The story detailed some of the allegations, but with a distinct twist that attempted to undermine the Post’s credibility.

The story’s headline read: “After Endorsing Democrat In Alabama, Washington Post Plans To Hit Roy Moore With Allegations Of Inappropriate Relations With Teenagers; Judge Fires Back Denial.”

Breitbart included included five paragraphs of denials from Moore, which were placed above many of the details of the allegations. The story’s author, Aaron Klein, also highlighted that one woman in the article “characterised Moore as being romantic, reading poetry to her and playing the guitar.”

The outlet disparaged the paper’s owner, Jeff Bezos, calling him an “open borders champion.” Further, Breitbart noted that the Washington Post editorial board had endorsed Moore’s challenger, Democrat Doug Jones, though the editorial board is separate from the site’s reporting staff.

On its front page, the outlet gloated about scooping the Post’s bombshell report and claimed it was “more popular” online than The Washington Post.

Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, an opinion writer who is separate from the news team that broke the story, said he wasn’t surprised by Breitbart’s story. He said its preview may have actually raised awareness about the Post’s story.

“Breitbart cares about clicks and protecting politicians who align with Steve Bannon’s ideology, though not always in that order,” Wemple said, referring to the former White House chief strategist. “Here, it pursued both at the same time.”

He added: “It’s a nice illustration of how media diversity works in bizarre ways for the benefit of certain embattled politicians. Such prebuttal journalism isn’t my style, but Breitbart does what Breitbart does. And though the goal appears to have been to undermine The Post’s story, seems to me that the effect was to provide a boost for it.”

Breitbart boosted Moore during the Republican primary earlier this year, despite opposition from Republican leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump, who backed Sen. Luther Strange. 

But the new revelations could prove especially damaging for Moore, who has espoused deeply conservative beliefs throughout his tenure as a judge and a Republican candidate. During his time as a judge, Moore, for example, barred a gay woman from seeing her children unsupervised because of her “lifestyle.”

Many Republican leaders like McConnell on Thursday called on Moore to “step aside” if the allegations are true.

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