Smear campaigns and the politics of personal destruction

The Washington Post published a long article on Roy Moore alleging inappropriate relationships with four teenage girls more than 35 years ago. That has raised a firestorm of outrage that should stimulate skepticism. There a number of factors that suggest this is a political hit job and not responsible reporting. First is the proximity to an election. Second is the political affiliation of the accused. Third is the age of the allegations. Fourth is the distortions and misleading in the reporting.

Scott Johnson calls it the Moore Miasma. He falls into the same bias as he does with Trump: “Moore’s response as quoted by the Post does not itself appear to be true. I draw an inference against Moore from the apparent falsity of his response.” The question is exactly what falsity he is citing. Alleging “fake news”? or “desperate political attack”? It appears that Johnson is jumping to conclusions of guilt in much the same way that many just assume the girl is absolutely beyond any question. You’d think the recent experience at Rolling Stone regarding the Title IX campus rape allegations might make an impact.

It is worthy of note that the allegations are rather wimpy with exposure perhaps being the most serious. It comes to an titillating story of high school dating behavior with some implications about a ‘dirty old man’ being a 32 year old single guy. The most serious allegation appears to be that of exposure.

Some have noted that three of the “teenage girls” were not under age and that leads to questions about their role in the story. This has the patina of a logical fallacy in attempting to gain credibility by association and pattern. The fact is that there is only one of the alleged interactions that might be considered improper and that runs into a Mom thinking about “good husband material.” For context see 17 Older Celebrities Who Actually Dated Teenagers.

Another item of interest is the WaPo reporting which goes into exquisite detail and length which is rather out of place for a 40 year old story. This is a means of elevating an incident with proper perspective.

The major concern about such incidents is described in the WaPo article and it is the matter of a victim saying nothing. to anyone. including Mom. That needs to be addressed but it is a matter of proper parenting first and foremost.

Saving up incidents to use 40 years later in a political smear campaign to destroy a person’s career and public image is arguably just as serious an offense, morally if not legally, as the alleged offenses. There is a problem here and it involves integrity and responsibility and motive. The problem should not be set aside for political convenience. 

 

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