It's okay now to admit you believed Roy Moore's accusers

In fact, not only is it okay, it’s downright encouraged if you’re a populist. Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow:

“I wasn’t actually as shocked as people would think,” Marlow said about what ended up as a Democratic upset in deep red Alabama. “It made a lot of sense to me.”…

Marlow also stressed that he was personally uncomfortable with the behavior attributed by The Post to Moore, and noted that he did believe the accusations from Leigh Corfman, who said Moore assaulted her while she was 14 — they were “not perfect,” he said, but had “a lot of credibility.”

Moore, he told CNN, was a “uniquely terrible candidate,” a position that drew hisses in righty media 11 days ago and has become conventional wisdom now. But it’s not just Marlow. James O’Keefe, who organized a sting of the Washington Post aimed at showing its reporting on Moore’s accusers was shoddy and biased, also says he believes the women:

After initially dodging questions regarding the credibility of the at least nine women who have accused Moore of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior, O’Keefe admitted to believing these claims during a sit-down interview with Mediaite.

“Yes [I believe them], but it’s not my subject matter,” said O’Keefe. “That’s not what my investigation was about. It wasn’t about the victims, it was about the bias in the media.”

Eh, even if the sting had worked, it wouldn’t have necessarily proved partisan bias. If WaPo had bit on a lie about Moore, we would have spent a week debating whether they were unduly credulous because they hate Republicans and wanted to tank the Alabama election or because the media’s in a #MeToo frenzy and lunging at possible big-ticket exposes indiscriminately. Either way, though, Moore, Trump, and the populist right would have used WaPo’s gullibility as proof that their entire line of reporting about Moore chasing teenaged girls, one of them just 14 years old when he “dated” her, should be dismissed out of hand as unreliable. If their fact-checking standards were so low that they were capable of being duped by Project Veritas, it would be argued, the only conscientious thing to do is assume that all of the accusations against Moore were dubious, including Leigh Corfman’s, irrespective of what steps WaPo took to verify them.

So what happened? Why, after a month of “Moore’s being smeared,” is it suddenly kosher to believe that Corfman was on the level? Two reasons. One is to protect Steve Bannon at all costs. Bannon deserves less blame than he’s been getting for Moore’s candidacy (which is not to say he deserves none), having entered the fray only after Moore was up big in the polls against former lobbyist Luther Strange. But Mitch McConnell and establishment Republicans have seized on the opportunity presented by Moore’s defeat to dunk on Bannon relentlessly, making the case to the rest of the party that he’ll lead it off a cliff electorally. If you want to win next fall, or at least not get completely wiped out, GOPers need to avert another Moore-style disaster by supporting Senate incumbents over Bannon’s primary challengers. That’s the establishment message. How do populists deflect that? Easy — by blaming Moore and Moore alone for his defeat, even if that means admitting they supported someone whom they believed at the time to be a child molester. Moore was a creep, they’ll say now, he was a kook, a “uniquely terrible candidate,” etc etc. Blame him all you want, just don’t blame Bannon. And don’t hold this dismal failure against the populist candidates he’s backing for Senate in the spring.

The other reason to believe Moore’s accusers belatedly, now that it’s no longer risky on the right to do so, is because it’ll give you a bit more leverage if/when the country begins relitigating the sexual misconduct charges against Trump. Both Marlow and Bannon himself have cited Trump’s predicament as a key reason why they stuck with Moore after the WaPo scandal reporting again. Once the principle is established that a politician accused by multiple women of sexual wrongdoing is unfit for office, that principle will inevitably be applied to the president. Breitbart couldn’t let that happen, by Marlow’s own admission. Now, by vouching for Corfman’s credibility after the fact, he’s already preparing for the battle over Trump. When Democrats eventually attack Trump over sexual misconduct and populist media rallies around the president, liberals will accuse them of blindly believing any Republican politician no matter how much evidence is stacked against him. Nuh uh, populists can say. We believed Leigh Corfman! Believing Moore’s accusers sets them up to argue later that their defense of Trump isn’t partisan but on the merits, the product of careful deliberation over the substance of the allegations. They’re perfectly willing to side with an accuser against a Republican if her story seems solid. Once he’s lost the election and is of no use to them anymore, that is.

Here’s McConnell dunking on Bannon yet again for the fiasco in Alabama. A CBS poll published 10 days before the election found that 71 percent of Republicans in Alabama *didn’t* believe the accusations against Moore. It’d be fascinating to see what the number looks like now, with the all-important element of political expedience stripped away from their judgment.