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Roy Moore and the Fire This Time

roy moore visits the capitol senate luncheons

What began as a targeted hit on Roy Moore in his Senate race against a faceless Democrat with the generic name of Doug Jones has now turned into a blazing ammo dump, littered with the bodies of Hollywood celebrities and politicians in both the United States and Britain. And yet, despite the best efforts of Gloria Allred, Moore is not only still standing, he is probably again leading in the race. A pair of recent polls has Moore up over Jones by anywhere from two to seven points, and only Democrats will be surprised if Moore wins on Dec. 12. In the immediate aftermath of the sexual allegations against him, Moore had plummeted from a commanding lead to a tie -- but as I observed on Twitter at the time, that probably represented his low point, and we could expect a reversion to Alabama's recent norm as a solidly Republican state.

The initial burst of accusations, coupled with an outside-the-deep-South ick factor regarding grown men chasing high school girls, might have sunk (and still might, if anything more, and worse, comes out) Moore but for several factors. One is that the election is taking place in Alabama, not on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a place where the idea of federalism and individualistic regions and states is becoming increasingly anathema to its essentially one-size-fits-all fascist ethic; as the socialist Benito Mussolini famously said, "Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state."

For another, the conflagration that claimed the reputations and careers of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, et al., and which continues to roar up the mountain to where the swell folks live, has made everybody forget about the li'l ole tarpaper shack down the holler that is Roy Moore.

And then there's the media...

In the wake of the Roy Moore fiasco, a number of “hot takes” have made their rounds in the media. How obviously hypocritical it is, for example, for evangelical leaders to stand behind a man credibly accused of sexually assaulting a minor. The dim-witted tribalism of people like Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who all but said she’d elect Jack the Ripper to the Senate as long as he pledged to overturn  Roe v. Wade. How Donald Trump could spend most of the 2016 campaign and beyond reveling in accusations against Bill Clinton—that Clinton of course denies—while taking Moore’s own denials at their word. And more to the point, how the president, accused of sexual misconduct by far more women than Senator Al Franken has been, still couldn’t resist taunting Franken from his (undoubtedly gold-tinged) glass house.

All of these are deserving of comment, to be sure. But there is one hot take that the media seems to be missing—the one about the role it has played in creating this sad, sordid, sickening mess in the first place.

How have we reached a point in this country when nearly half the voters of a U.S. state so mistrust, and even revile, major media outlets that they are willing to brush aside credible evidence and elect an accused sexual predator simply out of spite? How have we reached a point where a president of the United States can just declare “fake” news he doesn’t like—and largely get away with it?

In at least one survey, trust in the media—the necessary vanguard of any free society—is even lower than trust in Trump, which itself is nothing to tweet about. How on earth has this happened?