There’s No Good Way to Defend Roy Moore. But These Are the Very Worst Attempts.

When you’re citing Joseph and Mary to excuse sexual encounters with teenagers, you’ve lost.

In the wake of the Washington Post‘s explosive report alleging Roy Moore’s sexual misconduct with teenagers, Republican senators on Thursday urged Moore to bow out of the Alabama Senate race “if” the claims were true. But amid the backlash, at least two commentators have come out with similar arguments in Moore’s defense: Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler and Breitbart editor Joel Pollak.

“There is nothing to see here,” Ziegler told the Washington Examiner. “The allegations are that a man in his early 30s dated teenage girls. Even the Washington Post report says that he never had sexual intercourse with any of the girls and never attempted sexual intercourse.”

He then cited the age differences between Biblical characters to shore up his defense. “Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance,” Ziegler said. “Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

In the Bible, God is Jesus’ father and Mary is his mother. Joseph, however, was present for Jesus’ birth.

Appearing on MSNBC, Pollak took specific issue with how the story included women who allege Moore initiated relationships with them when they were 16 or 18 years old. “The 16-year-old and 18-year-old have no business in that story, because those are women of legal age of consent at the time the relationship was,” Pollak said.

He stressed that the account of one woman who says Moore sexually assaulted her when she was just 14 is just an allegation.

Alabama law prohibits candidates from withdrawing within 74 days of an election. With the special election scheduled for December 12, Moore’s name will remain on the ballot even if he does decide to drop out.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate