On Thursday, The Washington Post published a story about Roy Moore, the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who is now running for Senate: Four women went on the record with stories about Moore propositioning them when they were between the ages of 14 and 18, and when he was in his early 30s. Post reporters interviewed more than 30 people who knew Moore between 1977 and 1982.
Moore and his campaign, unsurprisingly, are vehemently denying all of the allegations, calling them “fake news” and “a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post.”
The Moore revelations puts the Congressional GOP in a bind as many Republicans have endorsed Moore, despite his blatant homophobia and racism. In the last hour since the story broke, many of these politicians have released statements saying that Moore should withdraw from the race. But nearly all of these statements (and there are many more than linked below) come with a catch—that Moore should step down if the allegations are true:
This is the question then: What would Republicans need to believe that these women’s stories are true? As many people are pointing out, right now it’s Moore’s word against a heavily reported story with over 30 sources and four women on the record. We may never get more proof than the extensive evidence laid out by the Washington Post’s reporting. Moore, like most accused sexual predators, may never confess to his alleged crimes; that does not mean that he did not commit them. The cult of “if true” statements only serve to cover Republicans’ own asses.
We have always undervalued women’s voices. Believing the women who have come forward with their stories against Moore might not even be enough—it’s been a year since Donald Trump was elected president, even after several women came forward with their stories of sexual assault. A poll from October 2016 showed that 68% of registered voters believed that Trump made unwanted sexual advances toward women.
As Jia Tolentino wrote in the New Yorker on Thursday morning, we failed the women who came forward to accuse Trump almost exactly a year ago. As the Moore story plays out, and Republicans jump in with their “if true” statements, it seems depressingly unavoidable that we will fail the women who came out with their stories today.