The popular alt-right website Breitbart News Network was the object of ridicule Sunday after it published a story ostensibly to discredit the Washington Post’s exposé on U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama.
The Breitbart story’s critics said it actually appeared to bolster the meticulous journalism the Post reporters used to secure on-the-record interviews with four women who say they were teenagers when Moore tried to date or had sexual contact with them when he was in his mid-30s.
The Breitbart reporter spoke to Nancy Wells, 71, the mother of Leigh Corfman, who alleges she was 14 and Moore was 32 when Moore stripped her to her underwear and attempted to place her hand on his genitals.
The Breitbart reporter asked Wells about her daughter’s motivations for going public.
“It wasn’t done for politics, you know,” Wells said. “It was done for personal reasons. And it wouldn’t have been done if the reporters hadn’t contacted my daughter.”
Asked why her daughter decided to speak on the record about the incident 38 years later, Wells replied, “She was contacted by the reporter. That’s why.”
Wells’ comments appear to confirm the Post’s original story, which detailed the methods and timeline of its authors’ reportage:
Neither Corfman nor any of the other women sought out The Post. While reporting a story in Alabama about supporters of Moore’s Senate campaign, a Post reporter heard that Moore allegedly had sought relationships with teenage girls. Over the ensuing three weeks, two Post reporters contacted and interviewed the four women. All were initially reluctant to speak publicly but chose to do so after multiple interviews, saying they thought it was important for people to know about their interactions with Moore. The women say they don’t know one another.
Breitbart’s editor-in-chief did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
At a campaign rally in Huntsville, Alabama, Sunday, Moore threatened a lawsuit against the Post for the story, which he has called “fake news.”
“The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal — even inflict physical harm — if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me,” Moore said in a fundraising email Thursday after the Post report was published.
A host of GOP lawmakers have called for Moore, the Republican nominee for Alabama’s special election for Senate, to end his campaign.
President Donald Trump has said that if the allegations against Moore are true, he believed the judge would drop out of the race.
National Republican Senate Committee Chairman Cory Gardner took things a step further Monday, saying that if Moore “refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
The NRSC has cut ties with Moore’s fundraising committee, the first tangible step of distancing itself from the candidate.
Other GOP lawmakers flew to Moore’s defense, saying allegations this serious ought to be considered deeply before passing judgement on someone.
Missouri GOP Rep. Billy Long appeared to retweet a hoax tweet about the reporting methods used in the Post report.
Here’s a GOP congressman spreading an obvious Twitter hoax about WaPo’s Roy Moore story pic.twitter.com/yAgpDBXxCz— Rebecca Berg (@rebeccagberg) November 12, 2017
Long’s office did not respond to a request for comment by the time this story was published.
It is unclear what effect the allegations against Moore will have on the Dec. 12 special election between him and Democrat Doug Jones.