It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 24 hours for former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore and his bid to take the old Senate seat of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. On Tuesday, his own party’s Senate leadership effectively threw him overboard in the wake of allegations that he had inappropriate contact with teenage girls in the 1970s and 1980s. Hours later, another woman came forward to claim that Moore had molested her, becoming the fifth woman to speak out against Moore.
Well, on Wednesday night, Moore got a little bit of breathing room. Exactly 24 hours after demanding that Moore offer a fuller response to these allegations, Fox News host Sean Hannity mused that the decision was best left to the people of Alabama.
Hannity came under fire on Friday, when he seemed to defend Moore after interviewing him on both his radio and television shows, wondering how it was possible to know who was telling the truth after almost 40 years. That prompted a number of his advertisers to head for the exits.
On Tuesday, Hannity had a change of heart. He gave Moore an ultimatum–unless he has an explanation for these allegations, he should get out of the race. Watch here.
Hannity said he was troubled by a number of “inconsistencies” in Moore’s responses. When asked if he dated teenage girls, he went from “not generally” to “not without permission of the mother” to an adamant denial. He then noted how the fifth accuser, Beverly Nelson, contended that Moore had signed her high school yearbook–a contrast with Moore denying he ever knew her. That appeared to be too much for Hannity.
“For me, the judge has 24 hours. You must immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistencies that I just showed. You must remove any doubt. If you can’t do this, then Judge Moore needs to get out of this race.”
Hannity spent much of Wednesday’s show rehashing the accusations over the years that Bill Clinton molested women, and claimed that Democrats gave Clinton “a free pass” and slammed his accusers up and down. He also blamed the media for enabling the Clintons, “and countless women have suffered as a result.” He believed that it was time for all those who enabled Clinton to have a “day of reckoning.”
He later brought on legal analyst Gregg Jarrett, who called Hannity’s radio interview with Moore “incriminating,” given the numerous inconsistencies in Moore’s story. He noted that their stories were far too detailed to be untrue.
Moore tried to answer these concerns in an open letter to Hannity that he posted to his Twitter feed.
— Judge Roy Moore (@MooreSenate) November 15, 2017
This came after his lawyer, Philip Jauregui, held a press conference at which he demanded that the latest accuser turn over the yearbook for independent handwriting analysis. Watch it here.
Hannity noted that three more women had come forward since he gave his ultimatum. Indeed, just as the press conference ended, a sixth woman spoke up to say Moore had assaulted her.
In light of this, he stated that in light of these “beyond disturbing and serious” allegations, Alabamians “need to know the truth” so they can make “an educated and informed decision” and make “a fair choice.” If it meant delaying the election–an option that was floated over the weekend–Hannity had no problem with it. But he believes that when all is said and done, the people of Alabama can make “the best decision for their state.”
Weak sauce, Sean. You call for Moore to provide answers. He doesn’t address claims that he was banned from a local mall, or the claims from the other accusers. And yet, just 24 hours after giving your opinion on whether Moore should go, you shrink back and say it’s not your place to make that call? Which is it, Sean?
The right-leaning Alabama politics site Yellow Hammer News showed somewhat more backbone. Hours before Hannity went to air, editor J. Pepper Bryars wrote that Moore’s “implausible and evasive answers” to the accusers’ “overwhelming and credible allegations” meant that he could not support Moore any longer.
This was the statement that Hannity could have given. He had a chance to show some leadership. Instead, he blew it eight ways to Sunday.
(featured image courtesy Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)