Roy Moore

What Roy Moore's Near-Miss Tells us About America's Great Media Divide

As partisan skepticism degenerates into media illiteracy, in-house media criticism devolves into pompous wagon-circling.


O, Bannon-bomb. |||

Last night's nail-biter of a special election in Alabama revealed several sharp splits in the American body politic—between evangelical whites and African Americans, between single-issue pro-lifers and the rough American consensus on abortion policy, between Bannonism and professional Republicanism, between #MeToo and she's-lying.

But as I contend in today's L.A. Times, one of the biggest chasms of perception—and generators of political activity, particularly on the right—is between the way insiders and outsider look at media. Excerpt:

All political media criticism—whether it was the more left-leaning alternative and New Journalism of the '60s and '70s, the right-leaning AM radio revolution of the '80s and '90s or the social media cacophony we see today—begins as a necessary and bracing reminder to the big media fish that they, too, swim in water, even if they don't feel it.

But soon, the outsider critique brushes up against the first iron law of media criticism: Partisan skepticism inevitably drifts toward media illiteracy. What starts out as a tool for more sophisticated news consumption eventually degrades into an excuse for those who choose not to believe inconvenient journalism.

So we see headlines like The Federalist's "It's Media's Fault 71 Percent Of Roy Moore Voters Don't Believe WaPo Allegations," and startling sentences like this one from the Wall Street Journal's William McGurn: "They may well be wrong about Mr. Moore and his accusers, but is their skepticism really that difficult to understand?"

That's not a corrective; that's an apologia for ignorance and nihilism.

Insider media criticism, the kind practiced both by in-house media reporters such as [CNN's Brian] Stelter and various ombudsmen and readers' representatives, suffers from its own iron law: Industrial self-critique inevitably drifts toward pompous defensiveness.

Especially when you're wrong ||| Reason

Plenty more examples of the latter at the link.

Some related Reason reading from me:

* "No, Congressional Republicans, Your Inability to Do Your Job Is Not the Media's Fault"

* "Donald Trump Did Not Create the Anti-Media Fervor on the Right"

* "Obamacare Media Fail: Did the President 'Work the Refs'?"

* "The 'Truth' Hurts: How the fact-checking press gives the president a pass"

* "The Breitbart Dilemma"

* "Biased About Bias: The hunt for ideology becomes an ideology."

* "Hack Roast: When citizens attack…reporters"

NEXT: Doug Jones, Roy Moore, and the Politics of the Lesser Evil

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  1. Last night’s nail-biter of a special election in Alabama revealed several sharp splits in the American body politic?between evangelical whites and African-Americans, between single-issue pro-lifers and the rough American consensus on abortion policy, between Bannonism and professional Republicanism, between #MeToo and she’s-lying.

    Are you implying that Jones represents the “rough American consensus on abortion policy”?

    Because “Abortion without limits until the baby emerges from the birth canal”, rest assured, is not remotely in the consensus.

    1. This. Polling has shown that the ‘American consensus on abortion’ is no different than the world’s consensus on abortion. The vast majority of Americans don’t believe it should be legal beyond twenty weeks, which is the more liberal application in the rest of the world.

    2. Yet he won a statewide race in Alabama.

      If it were really baby murder, you’d think Alabama voters would hold their nose and go for the kid fucker.

      1. Maybe, and bear with me, these people who Leftists and cosmotarians have such animus for actually don’t like the idea of voting in a child molester. Do you honestly thing Jones would win if it were a generic Republican that was not being accused of molesting children? Seems like the people of Alabama have more decency than the people of Massachusetts that kept electing Ted Kennedy

        1. The choice was between a child molester and a baby murderer. (Talk about an endorsement for libertarianism.)

          Anyone who brings up Ted Kennedy is a fucking moron. FYI. You’re aping the likes of Sevo. Get a grip man.

          1. Yeah, Kennedy is a non issue. Killing women isn’t disqualifying for Democrats.

            1. I would think that since he’s long dead he is actually not relevant to current events.

              Even if Ted Kennedy committed genocide somewhere, that doesn’t make Roy Moore not a child molester. You do get that right?

              1. No one is disputing that Moore was most likely a child molester. I was just stating that those ‘hicks’ who you deride have more morality that your Leftist friends in Massachusetts who continued to elect a murderer.

                1. You’re putting words into my mouth and then bringing up Ted Kennedy because you want to, because you think that makes you win at something.

      2. Yeah I don’t think there are as many 1 issue voters as the media likes to push. There is however a lot of tribalism in both parties where all the person needs to see is a “D” or “R” and their decision is made.

        1. Or an “A” or an “F” from the NRA; actually if they’re good on guns I find it to be a fairly decent litmus test for most everything else. It’s not that I’m a Republican [I’m not] but I just cannot find it in me to not hate the majority of Democrats any more.

    3. The rough consensus on abortion is that it should be legal, safe, and rare.

      1. Generally speaking, yes and no. Yes, most Americans want it legal, but less than 20% want it legal after twenty weeks (if Gallup’s annual surveys are to be believed). What you referenced was the Democratic Party’s old position. Since the most recent election the party removed ‘rare’ from its platform.

        1. So if the Right wants it illegal one would assume that they would be disinclined to use that particular service, whereas if the Left wants it to be legal one would assume that they would be inclined to use that particular service. So my question is, why does the Right want the Left to have more voting children?

    4. Jones was not running on a platform of abortion until birth for any reason at all.

      “Having said that, the law for decades has been that late-term procedures are generally restricted except in the case of medical necessity. That’s what I support. I don’t see any changes in that. It is a personal decision.”…..rtion.html

      That said, I don’t think his victory had anything to do with Alabama generally approving of his stance on abortion.

      1. His victory was obviously a referendum on abortion in America.

        Additionally, it was a referendum on every other cause that matters to you.


        1. Yeah my friends was all like “this is a referendum on the Republican party”. I told him it’s about 10% a referendum the Republican party and 90% a referendum on how much asshole republicans will lick before they say enough is enough and not elect alleged child molesters.

      2. His platform was “I’m not Roy Moore” and the press was decided uninterested in his stances.

    5. You used quotation marks in two different ways there.

    6. My Whole month’s on-line financ-ial gain is $2287. i’m currently ready to fulfill my dreams simply and reside home with my family additionally. I work just for two hours on a daily basis. everybody will use this home profit system by this link………

  2. That’s not a corrective; that’s an apologia for ignorance and nihilism.

    OK, simple question:

    Washington Post outed O’Keefe’s people trying to feed them false stories. Grand. Should be done.

    Why, precisely, did NOBODY out the people who fed them the false story about Trump’s people being advised of the Wikileaks early? The “multiple sources” went to multiple organizations to peddle this story. And the press seems unconcerned that, AGAIN, they were played for fools.

    Nixon would’ve easily survived Watergate if that reporting was as fucking awful as the reporting on Trump has been.

    1. Unconcerned meaning they’ve issued corrections, something FOX News does maybe once a decade?

      1. I think what dami means is why haven’t CNN etc. outed the sources that fed them false information about Donald Trump Jr. and the Wikileaks info. That is honestly a good question.

        1. They should if the info was fed with malicious intent. I think someone made a typo and things snowballed.

          1. They did it to MULTIPLE outlets. And its not like there was any question what the date of the email was.

            You’re going to go with “multiple typos to multiple outlets”?

            1. I honestly don’t know. I’m sure this will be ten times worse than the hourly false horseshit put out by fat-man radio and rapey FOX News, though.

              1. Seems the MSM has a pretty big problem with rape, Tony.

                Sure, they blasted out a “scoop” that ended up being “hey, he was advised of something released yesterday” and nobody is being punished for the nothing story they mis-reported based on EASILY verifiable information.

                Cannot figure out why some doubt the media.

          2. “Someone” made a typo?

            CNN reported that they verified the email with multiple sources. In other words, more than one person was mistaken in exactly the same way.

            1. Well thank God that means Trump isn’t fat and stupid. I thought we were in for some real shit.

              1. Tony, why project your issues on others?

                1. Tony’s debate strategy: deflect, deflect, deflect. Hope nobody notices that you’re dodging the question. But instead, it’s starting to look like Trump beat you up as a kid and left you with brain damage.

        2. You don’t out your sources if you want any future sources. You just mark them off you list of sources. This is a no-brainer.

          1. If you won’t use them, why protect identity?

            Hard to say “don’t our sources” when they DID SO to somebody who did the identical thing to them.

            1. not identifying them is giving the same people carte blanche to continue to dump false info on other sources.

              1. AND it gives the same outlets (CNN, MSNBC) that got the story wildly wrong to continue to use these corrupted sources while never providing any accountability to readers.

                “oh, yeah, that other story was bullshit, but we want to rely on the same people for other things, because they feed us what we want to hear”

                not identifying them suggests that the media outlets don’t care that the sources lie, they just care they got caught *this time*

                1. ^ This.

                  O’Keefe had be delegitimized but CNN and MSNBC are too useful to be discarded.

      1. Because, unlike the views of Roy Moore’s brother, the media’s performance of its job is the point of this piece.

    2. Why, precisely, did NOBODY out the people who fed them the false story about Trump’s people being advised of the Wikileaks early?

      Greenwald’s been hammering that point.

      1. I do respect Greenwald for his consistency. I may not agree with him, but he is consistent in his criticisms.

    3. There has only been the least amount of backpedaling and no retractions because it is the perceived mission, even the obligation, of most of the media outlets to ruin Trump and facilitate his removal from office by any means necessary. That is such a grand and noble mission that no amount of “factual inaccuracies” is about to deter them. There are simply bigger fish to fry to be constrained by such a pedestrian ethic.

  3. Roy Moore’s brother wants us to know that we’re all going to face an eternity of torture for thwarting the apotheosis of the chosen one:

    Roy Moore’s brother Jerry Moore spoke to @NPRDebElliott: “It might not happen on this earth right now, but Doug Jones will pay for what he’s saying. And them Democrat people that’s out there and those Republicans in Washington. They’re going to have to answer to God.”

    ? Arnie Seipel, NPR (@NPRnie) December 13, 2017

    1. We should care…why?

    2. Wow. These people have genuinely mixed politics and religion in a very unhealthy manner. Now Democrats are akin to sinners condemned to hell?

      1. + 100s of backwoods preachers and their flocks

      2. For what they say. I thought the key to salvation for these people was simply accepting Jesus, but I guess uttering wrongthink will also damn you to eternal suffering.

      3. It’s terrible because it’s not just some hicks brother venting because he lost the election.
        It’s terrible because Roy Moore’s brother “Jerry” is a noted theologian with a pope-size following and speaks with divine authority to millions. I remember when Jerry visited Rio and hundreds of thousands of devout evangelicals surrounded his Jerry-mobile trying to touch his robes and receive a Jerry-blessing.

    3. I would say they will probably receive a pat on the back from the imaginary Sky Wizard.

      1. “imaginary Sky Wizard”
        That’s some fantastic tipping, you must win all the theological arguments. I bet somebody read your strawman just now and said “Oh wow, here I thought I was worshipping an existence that is the source of space, matter and time, when actually it was a just a imaginary sky wizard, I renounce my faith”.
        You’re a “Devastator” indeed.

  4. Good article Matt.

  5. Biggest loser: Stevie Three-Shirts.

  6. Sorry, but I refuse to read an article published at the LA Times.


      *reads article anyway*

      Oh wait this article confirms my existing prejudices. Therefore it is evidence that SEE EVEN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA IS COMING AROUND

  7. Moore has been a controversial figure in US politics for about two decades. When he wins the primary election is when these accusations about events from.30 to 40 years ago come to light from one of the Democrat Party’s media cheerleaders. Appoaching such allegations with skepticism, especially when the discussion about them tended to conflate the accusations into something more sinister than what they started at.

    Again, given the ongoing malfeasance of political journalism in favor of one side, blaming the public for not believing the latest cry of “wolf” is unfair.

    1. Is it fair to blame them for disbelieving a properly sourced and fact-checked story without specific evidence of inaccuracy/malfeasance just because its published in an outlet they don’t like and says mean things about their guy?

      1. Exactly. I expect critical thinkers to question poorly sourced and obvious hit jobs. The WaPo story was not. Now, Gloria Allred’s camera-mugging can definitely fall into the category of hit jobs. But Leigh Corfman?

        1. It also isn’t a good look when Moore initially responds to some of the accusations of dating high school girls when he was a DA in his 30s with “Well I remember her, and I guess if we went on dates then we did” before backtracking and claiming he never met any of them, which was provably false in some cases. If you want to talk about credibility of the accusers, Roy Moore didn’t give himself much credibility with his responses.

          1. Yeshua ben YHWH has already forgiven Roy his sins, heathens. SO forgiven it’s as if these things never happened. You will all regret rejecting The Judge when babies’ blood is flowing down the church walls and the Liberal Satanists have burned every Holy Bible in Alabama. Believe it!

        2. Is it the villagers fault when they ignore the boy who cried “wolf” when he does see a wolf?

          1. Would these people have shown the same skepticism of equally credible allegations published by a right-wing outlet about a Democrat? You and I both know the answer to that question.

            1. They likely would not have.

              But they also likely would not have known about them, as the press would’ve buried them.

      2. And the funniest part is, when I comment on this story on right-of-center sites, the Moore defenders reflexively bring up the “FORGED YEARBOOK”, as if that was the ONLY accusation leveled against Moore. I believe it is because the right-wing media sites deliberately overplay this one in order to promote the narrative that it’s all a lie and a con job by the media. They focus on the opposition’s weakest argument in order to make the entire team look bad, and deliberately conceal the opposition’s strongest argument.

        1. As opposed to the progressive media focusing on Birtherism to undercut all legitimate criticisms of Obama?

          It’s a two way street…except nobody gets pissy when you don’t take Info Wars seriously. I take CNN about as seriously as whatever that fuckwad who runs that site due to them having noted moron Acosta as a “serious” journalist.

        2. The yearbook was the piece of ‘concrete evidence’ presented, so that is actually a pretty important thing. I hadn’t seen if it was proven to be forged or not, but I was waiting to see if that evidence panned out or not.

          Has it been definitively determined to be fake? If so, that is a blow to the overall credibility of the story since it was the only actual evidence presented that I’m currently aware of.

          That’s before you consider the timing of the story, which if that is a coincidence it is a most fortuitous one for the Democrat party wouldn’t you agree?

          1. Weren’t there multiple women with yearbook signatures?

            One of the women admitted that the date and location below the signature were written by her at the time (according to her) to annotate – I don’t find that particularly odd or egregious for a teenage girl to do with a yearbook, and I’m not sure what the point of adding it 40 years later would be. And the reason it was asked about was because people noticed a difference in handwriting between that and the signature – if the whole thing was a forgery to frame Moore, that just seems unnecessary. Doesn’t mean it must be true, but it was far from conclusive proof of forgery, let alone exoneration for Moore on everything else, that some conservative sites made it out to be.

            It has not been proven that Moore’s signature is a forgery. According to her and her attorney, an expert confirmed it was authentic – granted, that should be taken with a grain of salt. I’m not sure if an independent analysis has been done.

            1. Just one as far as I know. If you know otherwise go ahead and share it, but the only reporting I’ve seen are in regards to the one being represented by Allred and I have yet to hear the results of that testing.

              1. Can anybody explain how Allred still has a law license, given that she seems to do nothing but media appearances to attack Republicans and approximately jackshit afterwards?

                1. I think you actually answered your own question within the question.

      3. The timing of when it appeared was convenient for the Democrat’s interests, again given Moore’s longtime notoriety. The accusations were conflated upward in number and what he was supposed to have done by Moore’s opponents in discussion. Why exactly was doubt inappropriate?

        Again, the article is blaming the public for not trusting news media when the media havem been undermining any trust in them for years.

    2. You might get one person to sell their soul and be ripped apart by the media, but not 10 or 15 who’s stories check out (right place, right time, right people). At that point you have a pretty reasonable argument that this person is most likely a piece of shit and choose the smaller turd in the bowl, or just don’t vote at all. That’s what we saw in ‘bama

      1. There were only two people who accused Moore of doing anything illegal. Inflating the numbers is part if the problem of trust here.

        1. A district attorney in his 30s serially dating high school girls might not be illegal in Alabama (assuming they’re 16) but it is creepy as fuck. The law and morality aren’t perfectly aligned – partially from flawed law, and partially because you can’t or shouldn’t always legislate morality. But that doesn’t mean one can’t judge Moore as a creepy predator for his behavior even setting aside the two claims of sexual assault.

          1. Are you familiar with the term ‘revisionist history’? You know, like when you look backwards at the 1500’s and you determine that fucking at age 12 means that everyone back then was a deviant, completely divorced from the social norms of the age?

            Yeah, that doesn’t excuse Moore by any stretch of the imagination but would you prefer Moore to have been a deviant 40 years ago or a deviant today because it’s going to be one or the other.

            Of course, it’s a dumb question because the answer is irrelevant. If he was a deviant 40 years ago we wouldn’t even be having the discussion because he never would have become a Politian. One could say the same for Democrats who were in the KKK who stayed into the party up until just a few years ago, too, but somehow that didn’t seem to hurt their careers.

            None of this is a defense of Moore, it’s just an observation that people have their heads shoved so far up their own ass that it’s amusing to people who have no skin in the game. A fuckwit was always going to end up seated in Alabama, and the seat will turn Red again as soon as Alabama gets it’s shit together.

            1. I didn’t live in Alabama 40 years ago, but it wasn’t exactly the 1500s. As can be seen from the testimony of his old coworker and others who testified to this behavior, there were plenty of people back then who thought this was weird. Additionally, if Moore did routinely date underage girls, it makes the stories from the women that said he assaulted them while dating them (or trying to) when they were teenagers more plausible than if he never had a history of doing anything like that. And it’s even more plausible when Moore admits to maybe dating some teenagers back then and then backtracks and says he never met any of them.

              I agree that Democrats making this out to be some huge shift are overreacting. Jones will almost surely lose in 2020.

              As a side note, I’m also skeptical of the notion that we can never judge people in the past because norms were different. Yeah you have to take context into account to an extent, but this argument is essentially cultural relativism applied through time instead of place, and I’m not a huge fan of cultural relativism. I also find it funny, because conservatives generally hate cultural relativism when it comes to talking about people in other cultures today, but they’re often fond of the argument that we have to strictly judge people in the past according to the norms of the time* – and a lot of progressives take the opposite approach themselves. I find the inconsistency amusing.

              1. *And going further off this, the “norms of the time” are often selectively taken from the point of view of the person they’re defending, or people similar to them in general. I made this point to another poster recently in a discussion about slave rape back in the day. They argued that it wasn’t fair to judge it as such since people didn’t consider it rape back then, or even necessarily wrong as it was very widespread. And I pointed out that their assertion was heavily dependent on who we were polling back then – sure, a lot of white Southerners probably thought it was ok, or at least that it wasn’t rape, but did the women who were violated, or their husbands/fathers/brothers/etc. feel the same way? Of course not. They conceded my point after I laid it out in that way.

                Sorry if I went too far off track here, I just got going on a tangent or two.

                1. I went out of my way to point out that it was an irrelevant question.

                  As a side note, I’m also skeptical of the notion that we can never judge people in the past because norms were different.

                  You can be skeptical all you want, but you are advocating for revisionist history. Should Moore be in office today with those types of opinions? Not where I live, but Alabama didn’t seem to mind most of the things we find disgusting in Moore. Say, his views on Christianity trumping secular government or the rights of minorities let alone his gross misunderstanding of the Constitution as a state Supreme Court justice?

                  The supreme irony to me is that what is being said is that Moore was too liberal in his views on sexuality at the time. No offense, but how long do we need to wait until the left defends the right of 50 year olds to date girls who are legally considered able to make their own sexual decisions? Do we want the government in the bedroom, or outside of it? Make up your fucking mind.

                  You’ll note that in Moore’s case his views on homosexuality were the norm for the majority of his life. We’re only saying that’s wrong now in hindsight, and he was left behind by that social change.

                  Will the diddlers of today become the civil rights leaders of tomorrow? Almost certainly, given a long enough timeline.

                  1. Even if true, historical revisionism simply means any reinterpretation of the historical record or orthodox views of hit. It can be positive or negative, it’s not inherently bad or wrong.

                    If you want to argue that Moore should have been viewed as unqualified well before these allegations, you’ll find no argument there with me. The reason this was such a big deal is that it’s something that people generally find repulsive across party and ideological lines.

                    I’m not sure where you’re going in the next paragraph. It already is legal for a 50 year old to date girls above the age of consent, and I’ve never seen anyone argue for an AoC above 18. Regardless of what the number is, that doesn’t mean people can’t find it weird when a grown man in his 30s serially dates barely legal girls, let alone underage (even more so in a state where the AoC is lower than 18). One doesn’t have to think something should be addressed by the legal system to make a judgment about it, libertarians of all people should know that. I also think this is one issue where it’s difficult to fit into the sexual liberal/conservative binary. As early marriage was more common in the past there’s a conservative reasoning behind viewing underage women as fair game, in addition to a liberal one.

                    And of course, all of that is setting aside the non-consensual allegations about him.

                    1. My only big point is that the left is eating Moore for being sexually liberal in a completely legal way both at the time and today. That is ironic to me, because Moore is a social conservative and the left are the one’s who want the government out of the bedroom.

                      You tell me who the good guys are here, because from what I can tell all of the above are unmoored (pardon the pun) from any semblanace of consistency or ethos.

                      It’s telling that everyone is only acting surprised because it was assumed that social conservatives are the only one’s who actually attempt to live by an ethos. It’s a moral given that the opposition has no such qualms and this is implicit in every story I’ve seen on the subject. The big reveal is supposed to be that the right plays by more or less the same god damn rules and that this is an indictment of only social conservatives. Haha. Oh god.

                      Haha, pardon be while I weep for the death of the Republic while everyone circle jerks to their social signaling. Haha.

                    2. And, just to clarify on the minor point where I talk about the comparisons between legally consenting 16 year olds and homosexuals: it is that both were/are considered ‘weird’ yet it’s implied that only one option is ‘normal’ yet only one of those things has been illegal. Haha. Gee, we’re so sexually liberalized here in the West! Haha.

                      Only make your enemies live by their own rules, and have no rules yourself. This is the key to radical change, am I right or am I right? I’m right, right?

  8. I was browsing Twitter, and guess who I found in the comments to a tweet about Ron Johnson talking about Roy Moore?

    None other than the legendary DONDEROOOOOO! What did he have to say?

    “Message: Alabama favors Communism over Liberty. This election had nothing to do with Roy Moore. This was about freedom vs. slavery. Alabama voted for slavery.

    We have to ask ourselves, why do black women in particular hate liberty so much? Why do they embrace communism so easily? They seem so nice to your face, and then black women stab you in the back every time.”

    1. “Why won’t black women vote for a guy who says the country was last great in the days of slavery and that we’d be better off without all the amendments after the 10th? Why do they hate freedom?”


      Also, you can go to hell for making me scroll through all those garbage peoples’ shitty opinions to find DONDEROOOOOO.

      1. You know ctrl + f is a thing right?

  9. That’s not a corrective; that’s an apologia for ignorance and nihilism

    Is that a comment about the media or of those who no longer believe the media?

  10. BTW: best Alabama political ad ever:

    What would Dale Peterson do?

  11. I do not see why it is nihilism to disbelieve the media, there has been a lot of shit peddled lately. If media outlets go partisan in favor of chasing one demographic why is it the consumer who is at fault for not believing stories? Credibility is important and when it is gone nothing can magically bring it back. News has pretty clearly and very deeply intersected with opinion/analysis and the market has spoken by saying news mostly sucks, is partisan, and cannot be trusted. Don’t blame the consumer for a crap product or their refusal to believe something some rag decided to publish.

    Didn’t Stossel just have an article on here talking smack about the New York Times atrocious bias?

  12. “partisan skepticism degenerates into media illiteracy”

    missed it. what’s the problem?

  13. Kinda rich for a libertarian to be bitching about nihilism.

    1. Boy! I say, boy! You’re talking outside your grade level son. Them fancy words don’t mean what you think they mean. (Good kid, but he’s got to learn that books are for reading, not for pillows) [/Foghorn Leghorn].

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