You want hearsay, you got it. The New Yorker has a new story about Roy Moore that is pretty much all hearsay and rumor. It’s garbage journalism.
The hook: Moore was banned from a local mall and the YMCA for hitting on young girls. Frankly, that would not surprise me in the slightest, based on what I have learned about Moore in the past few days. Indeed, this story from AL.com has eyewitness accounts from people who saw Moore flirting with young girls at the mall. So I’m not saying that didn’t happen. It almost certainly did. But as for the story that he was banned for his behavior, this New Yorker story does not even begin to prove the claim:
This past weekend, I spoke or messaged with more than a dozen people—including a major political figure in the state—who told me that they had heard, over the years, that Moore had been banned from the mall because he repeatedly badgered teen-age girls. Some say that they heard this at the time, others in the years since. These people include five members of the local legal community, two cops who worked in the town, several people who hung out at the mall in the early eighties, and a number of former mall employees. (A request for comment from the Moore campaign was not answered.) Several of them asked that I leave their names out of this piece. The stories that they say they’ve heard for years have been swirling online in the days since the Post published its report. “Sources tell me Moore was actually banned from the Gadsden Mall and the YMCA for his inappropriate behavior of soliciting sex from young girls,” the independent Alabama journalist Glynn Wilson wrote on his Web site on Sunday. (Wilson declined to divulge his sources.) Teresa Jones, a deputy district attorney for Etowah County in the early eighties, told CNN last week that “it was common knowledge that Roy dated high-school girls.” Jones told me that she couldn’t confirm the alleged mall banning, but said, “It’s a rumor I’ve heard for years.”
We’ve now reached the point in the Roy Moore story where Big Media will print just about anything. Even better, the only people who would actually know about the banning — people who managed the mall — have no memory of Moore being banned:
A former manager of the mall, who began working there in the late eighties, confirmed the existence of a ban list, but did not recall Moore being on the list during the manager’s tenure there. Barnes Boyle, who is eighty-six, also managed the mall, from 1981 to 1998. His wife, Brenda, told me that Moore was a longtime acquaintance of his—they went to the Y.M.C.A. together often—and that he planned to vote for him. The recent allegations against Moore, the Boyles thought, are likely liberal propaganda and, as Brenda put it, “a sign of the times.”
You’d think that people managing the mall, or who attended the YMCA with Moore, might remember if the local DA had been banned from the mall and the YMCA for hassling girls.
If this were the only story about Moore out there, I’d be manning the ramparts screaming about liberal bias and incompetence driving this whole controversy.
However, this is not the only story about Moore out there.
If anything, this story illustrates, by way of contrast, the relative strength of the stories published by the Washington Post and revealed at the big Gloria Allred press conference today. With the Washington Post story and today’s press conference, we know who is making the accusations. The women have put themselves out there, to have their stories honestly scrutinized by some, and to have their lives picked apart and their reputations smeared by others. The cries of “hearsay” we heard about those stories emanate from people who don’t know what the word means. The accounts are either directly from the victims themselves, or from people they told over the years before the women had a motive to fabricate their stories to keep Moore out of the Senate. And, as noted above, people with names are coming out of the woodwork to say they saw Moore hitting on young girls.
In the New Yorker piece, by contrast, the ultimate source of all the information in the story is a complete mystery. There is no corroboration. Legal ignoramuses can scream “HEARSAY!” and — for once — they get to be right.
Apparently, my goal in life is to infuriate every single person who reads my stuff. If you like what I have to say about the New Yorker here, you hate me for believing the women who have accused Moore. If you like the fact that I believe the stories about Moore, you hate me for pooh-poohing this story.
So I have a unique gift for alienating everyone. But I call ’em like I see em. And this is how I see ’em here:
A guy can be a complete jerk (as Moore appears to be), and even be a likely child molester, (as Moore also appears to be based on available evidence) . . . and can still be the subject of a slipshod and biased article that never should have been published.
That’s what we have. The New Yorker should be ashamed of this article. It does not meet publishing standards. Go back to journalism school.
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