The Corner

Politics & Policy

Breitbart: Hey, Let’s Litigate Age of Consent

This afternoon, the Washington Post reported that a woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual contact with her when she was 14, and that three other women say Moore pursued relationships with them when they were teenagers. This all happened while he was in his 30s. Before the story was even published, Breitbart rushed to Moore’s defense. At 1 p.m., the site’s front-page headline read:

After Endorsing Democrat in Alabama, Bezos’s Washington Post Plans to Hit Roy Moore with Allegations of Inappropriate Relations with Teenagers; Judge Claims Smear Campaign

Aaron Klein, the author of that story and Breitbart’s “senior investigative reporter,” was dogged, but only in pursuit of spin. He wrote that one of the women in the story “characterized Moore as being romantic, reading poetry to her, and playing the guitar.” Klein continued: “The woman is cited saying that physical contact only involved kissing and did not progress any further.” This all happened when she was 17.

Joel Pollak, editor-at-large of Breitbart, contorted himself to defend Moore on MSNBC. According to Pollak, “the 16 year old and the 18 year old have no business in that story,” because the age of consent in Alabama is 16. Pollak insisted that those relationships, being legal, were “perfectly legitimate.” He went on to argue, “As far as we know, there’s only one relationship that’s been alleged that is problematic.”

Only one. How many 14-year olds saying Roy Moore touched them would it take to disturb Joel Pollak? The answer is probably that he’d defend as many as Steve Bannon tells him to defend. 

Regardless, it should go without saying that just because something isn’t illegal doesn’t mean it’s acceptable conduct for a public official. More to the point, though, Breitbart’s coverage today constitutes an uncritical defense of Moore in the face of serious allegations of wrongdoing. Klein’s article was obviously an attempt to get ahead of the story, featuring Moore’s fiery response and coming after the Post for its alleged Democratic bias. That means Klein and the Breitbart editorial staff had advance notice of allegations that a senatorial candidate molested an underage girl — and chose to slavishly do his bidding.

Even if new information doesn’t come to light, the Post story is thoroughly reported and the allegations are disturbing. Responsible people should take them seriously. Breitbart failed that test today. Are you surprised? 

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