The Media Today

The media today: Roy Moore’s anti-media strategy is tested at the polls

December 12, 2017

He’s been exposed by national outlets and blasted by local editorials. He’s been disavowed by prominent members of his own party and has run the final weeks of his campaign in a media blackout. Tonight, Roy Moore may well become the next US Senator from Alabama.

As Alabama voters head to the polls today, Republican Moore and Democrat Doug Jones will be the names on the ballot, but the election is also a test of Moore’s press-bashing strategy. Reports from the field show, at the very least, that it’s had an impact. A CBS poll from earlier this month found that 71 percent of Republicans in the state don’t believe the allegations against him, “and those who believe this also overwhelmingly believe Democrats and the media are behind those allegations.” 

Moore’s anti-media strategy arose partly out of political necessity. After The Washington Post published a detailed report on his history of sexual involvement with women as young as 14, Moore had two options: drop out or attack the reports as fabricated. He’s chosen the latter. Moore’s supporters claim that the press, Washington elites, Democratic operatives, and a host of other boogeymen are out to get a candidate who they feel represents traditional values. The race has become an extreme test case for exploring trends that helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency.

The candidate has refused nearly every interview request, even as reporters dig deeper into his past. For at least some Alabama voters, however, that reporting is easily dismissed. “An entire year of ‘fake news’ accusations has taken its toll here in Alabama, just like it has nationally,” Anna Claire Vollers, a reporter for the Alabama Media Group, tells CNN’s Brian Stelter in his election preview. Just how high of a toll that distrust of media has taken will be a big part of the story when the results come in tonight.

Below, more on Moore and the media.

  • Much watch: For Vice News Tonight, Frank Luntz’s focus group with several Alabama Republican voters demonstrates how deep the distrust in media runs.
  • A media-bashing primer: Vox’s Brian Resnick reports on the Moore campaign’s talking points for discrediting “fake news.”
  • The president’s embrace: Politico’s Eliana Johnson and Alex Isenstadt explain how President Trump “came around to an accused child molester.
  • Predictions?: No one is sure who has the edge heading into today’s election. Politico’s Steven Shepard reports “the race is so peculiar and has so many variables” that many pollsters are refraining from making definitive projections.
  • Beyond sexual misconduct: Moore’s history of Islamophobic, homophobic comments was well covered even before recent reporting on his behavior with women. Here’s The Atlantic’s Michelle Cottle on “the lawlessness of Roy Moore” from earlier this fall.


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Other notable stories

  • The Washington Post’s Jack Gillum and Shawn Boburg take a long look at Fusion GPS, the secretive firm behind the Trump dossier that is led by former journalists.
  • Bloomberg’s Jordyn Holman and Scott Soshnick have a detailed story on a lawsuit brought by a former NFL Network employee that includes sexual harassment allegations against several ex-players as well as former top executive Eric Weinberger, who is now the president of the Bill Simmons Media Group. Weinberger and the ex-players named in the suit who currently work at NFL Network have been suspended by their respective employers.
  • The New Yorker has fired star reporter Ryan Lizza for engaging in “improper sexual conduct.”
  • For CJR, in a piece co-published by The Guardian, Itzel Guillen, Irving Hernandez, and Allyson Duarte explain what to do (and what not to do) when writing about Dreamers.
  • The Atlantic’s Molly Ball visits Bernie Krisher in Tokyo to examine his legacy as the founder of the now-shuttered Cambodia Daily.
  • The Boston Globe’s Thomas Farragher has a beautiful tribute to his late colleague Gloria Negri, whose answer to editors during her 53-year career at the paper was always, “Send me.
Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.