Monday, November 13, 2017


Yesterday, Axios reported on Breitbart's dirty diggers:
Steve Bannon has sent two of Breitbart News' top reporters, Matt Boyle and Aaron Klein, to Alabama. Their mission: to discredit the Washington Post's reporting on Roy Moore's alleged sexual misconduct with teenagers.
So far, the Bannon crew doesn't have much:
A story that popped today — splashed over the Breitbart homepage — contains what the website claims is a major hole in the account of Leigh Corfman, who says Alabama Senate candidate, Moore, made sexual advances on her when she was 14 years old.

Klein reports from Birmingham, Alabama: "Speaking by phone to Breitbart News on Saturday, Corfman's mother, Nancy Wells, 71, says that her daughter did not have a phone in her bedroom during the period that Moore is reported to have allegedly called Corfman – purportedly on Corfman's bedroom phone – to arrange at least one encounter."

... It's quite a head-scratcher as to why Breitbart thinks this bedroom phone detail matters. As Corfman's mother told Breitbart "the phone in the house could get through to her easily." Wells stands by her daughter's allegations.
A follow-up story is even flimsier:
EXCLUSIVE – Mother of Roy Moore Accuser: Washington Post Reporters Convinced My Daughter to Go Public

The mother of Leigh Corfman, who says that Alabama Senatorial Candidate Roy Moore tried to engage in a sexual encounter with her when she was 14, told Breitbart News that the Washington Post worked to convince her daughter to give an interview about the allegations against Moore.

Speaking by phone to Breitbart News on Saturday, Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, 71, further stated that her daughter would not have come forward if it weren’t for The Post reporter’s alleged actions.
They're not "alleged actions" -- the original Post story acknowledged that the women quoted were persuaded to come forward by Post reporters:
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.
Breitbart has nothing so far -- but it doesn't matter, for two reasons.

First, the nothingburger stories are drawing a lot of eyeballs. Both of them among the most popular stories listed on the Breitbart home page. As I type this, the first story has drawn 14,501 comments in 23 hours. The second story has drawn 11,979 comments in 15 hours. That's a lot of reader engagement. Who needs real scoops when non-scoops work this well?

Second, the readers of Breitbart will interpret anything these guys turn up, however insubstantial, as proof that the story is tainted and unbelievable. Free Republic has posted links to both of the Breitbart stories, and commenters are already convinced that the Post paid for the story, with assistance from Democrats and/or (because they're the right-wing villains of the moment) establishment Republicans:
More like WAPO reporters paid her to go public.

Bankrupt 3 times. Divorced 3 times. Drug addiction.

Yeah, the ideal candidate for a big payoff.


I am hopeful that Judge Moore’s prosecutor friends are interviewing witnesses, chasing down details, and asking for bank records about WaPo payments. There may be some criminal conduct there, and that would be the real bombshell. It would be even better if they roll it up and it leads to McConnell. He needs to go; he is willing to sacrifice this important seat in order to keep establishment control of the Senate. This is about 2018 and Bannon as much as it is about Moore. He wants to win against Bannon.


At what point does (has) the so-called “media” cease to be a journalistic enterprise protected by the First Amendment and instead become simply a slanderous conspiracy deserving of RICO scrutiny?
Breitbart is unlikely to find anything that would make a reasonable person doubt this story. But most Republican voters aren't reasonable people. They're an angry mob, and it will take very little to confirm their belief that their enemies have done something reprehensible. After all this is over, it will be widely believed on the right that the story was thoroughly debunked, just the way it's widely believed on the right that the Trump-Russia story has been debunked. Boyle and Klein won't have to work very hard to make that happen.

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