The Washington Post
By Philip Bump
Image courtesy of Cameron Carnes/The Washington Post
There’s been a consistent refrain from those seeking to discredit The Washington Post’s reporting that uncovered a 1979 incident in which Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore allegedly fondled a 14-year-old girl: Why now? Why is it only a month before the election that this story came to light, after being unmentioned for the past 40 years?
Here, for example, is Moore himself making the argument:
“To think grown women would wait 40 years before a general election to bring charges is unbelievable,” he said at an event in Alabama over the weekend. He later added, “Isn’t it strange after 40 years of constant investigation, that people have waited four weeks before a general election to bring their complaint? That’s not a coincidence.”
Of course it’s not a coincidence that the women came forward just as Moore is seeking election to the Senate — but not in the way Moore means.
Moore has been a controversial figure in American politics for some time but mostly at the edges. His fight to preserve a monument to the Ten Commandments in a state building 15 years ago gained him national attention — but not necessarily national importance. Now, he’s seeking election to the Senate, one of 100 people who make up one half of the legislative branch of government. It’s a much more important fight nationally, and, as a result, has attracted much more attention.
There’s a reason that people with skeletons in their closets are loathe to seek elected office: Once they do, the scrutiny that is a natural part of the campaign process threatens to expose those skeletons. This is less true for lower-level elected positions, where there is less media attention and fewer resources. For something like the Senate or the presidency, though, that scrutiny is both intense — and should be expected.
Why now? Because that’s when an important story about a man who is right now seeking election to the Senate was unearthed, researched and vetted. It’s no more complicated than that.