In refusing to back down in the face of accusations of sexual misconduct, Judge Roy Moore may feel he has nothing to lose. But that is not the case with some of his most prominent supporters. Steve Bannon’s campaign to overthrow the Republican establishment is bigger than an Alabama Senate race that initially had a lot more to do with scandals involving a since-ousted governor who appointed Moore’s primary opponent, Luther Strange, to the seat Moore wants than it had with Bannon’s feud with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Breitbart.com isn’t responsible for Moore’s political career; he has been outraging the judicial and political establishment in Alabama since long before Bannon’s insurgency began. So it’s worth asking why the Breitbart CEO not only has failed to distance himself from Moore now that he’s become politically radioactive but is doubling down on his candidacy in the face of a media feeding frenzy and condemnations from many Republican officeholders.
The answer has very little to do with the question of Moore’s guilt, the strong case built against him by the Washington Post, or the new accusation from a women who claims he assaulted her when she was 16. Nor is it about the judge’s unconvincing denials or the difficulty of replacing him on the ballot with weeks to go before the special election. Rather, it is the result of Bannon’s political credo, which conceives of politics as a form of warfare in which no quarter can be given. To Bannon, this battle is not about Moore’s fitness for public office but instead is a conflict with both the media and establishment Republicans that he believes must be won by any means available.
But as both Moore and Breitbart are escalating their attacks on his accusers and seeking to spin the controversy as a case of the liberal media executing a “weaponized hit” on the judge, the question no one in Breitbart’s camp seems to be considering is: What will be the long-term consequences of a political faction and a media outlet putting all its chips on the willingness of Alabama voters and the American public to tolerate someone accused of a serious crime?