Stop Making Me Defend (Ugh) Roy Moore!

Is Roy Moore the most repulsive public figure to warrant an Ethics Alarms “Don’t Make Me Defend…” posts? Oooh, tough call. I checked: the all-time leader in such posts is Donald Trump, with Joe Biden a distant second. Then we have Jack Phillips (the anti-gay baker), Sean Spicer, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Joy Behar, Alex Jones, Lenny Dykstra, Woody Allen, Stacey Abrams, Chris Cuomo (twice!), Nicki Minaj, Tucker Carlson, Nancy Pelosi and Pete Rose. That’s tough and nauseating competition. What do you think?

But I digress. The occasion for my rallying to Roy’s side is the $8.2 million verdict in his favor in his defamation suit against the Senate Majority PAC for a negative TV ad characterizing some of the sexual misconduct accusations against him that helped derail Moore’s failed 2017 U.S. Senate bid in Alabama.

Senate Majority PAC funded a group called Highway 31 that ran a $4 million advertising blitz against Moore, concentrating on the accounts of his pursuit of teenage girls early in his career when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. It is beyond reasonable dispute that Moore was creepy with young girls, even Joe Biden-like. However, defamation is when one states as fact something for which there is no factual evidence and that harms another’s reputation.

The anti-Moore TV commercial at issue began by asking: “What do people who know Roy Moore say?” It then stated that “Moore was actually banned from the Gadsden mall … for soliciting sex from young girls” and “One he approached was 14 and working as Santa’s helper.” The facts were materially different from the innuendo. Wendy Miller was that Santa’s helper, and she had testified that when she was 14 and working as a Santa’s helper at the local mall, Moore chatted her up, told her she was pretty, asked her where she went to high school and offered to buy her a soda. Yes, that’s creepy as hell. However, he did not “solicit sex” from her. He did ask her out two years later (she didn’t go: her mother forbade it.) The ad’s phrasing is deliberate deceit and calculated to leave a false impression, anticipating that a Clintonian defense—“Hey, we only said he approached the 14-year-old!”— would be enough if Moore sued. Riiiight. There is nothing inappropriate about a man “approaching” a girl, but the ad deceptively linked it to “soliciting sex from young girls.”

Moore also wasn’t “actually banned from the Gadsden mall.” That implies an official determination after an investigation. What “actually” happened was that a police officer who worked as security at the Gadsden Mall testified that he told Moore not to return to the mall after the officer received complaints from store managers that Moore was asking out teen employees or making them uncomfortable. That may be true—there was no evidence of it other than the cop’s word, and Moore denies it—but it still isn’t banning, especially “actual” banning. It’s actually a police officer threatening Moore with “I don’t want to see you around here again!,’ and that’s not an official mall policy decision.

As difficult as it is to smear someone as slimy as Roy Moore, the Senate Majority PAC-funded ad accomplished that amazing feat.

The jury was correct.

7 thoughts on “Stop Making Me Defend (Ugh) Roy Moore!

  1. I have a hard time keeping Judge Roy Bean out of my head whenever I read about this guy. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen the movie.

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