Dean Obeidallah: Both SNL and Fox News have addressed the allegations that, in his 30s, Roy Moore had relationships with teen girls
SNL used its platform to shed light on the allegations against Moore, while some at Fox News used their platforms to defend Moore
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described Sean Hannity's radio comments about Roy Moore. The comments were made on his syndicated show, not on Fox News radio, and did not include an explicit defense of Moore. He agreed with his co-host, not a guest, who called Moore's relationship with the then-teenagers "consensual." Hannity later said he "misspoke" and did not mean to describe the alleged relationship with a 14-year-old that way.
Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @deanofcomedy. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
Saturday Night Live and Fox News both addressed the allegations that Republican US Senate candidate Roy Moore had relationships with several teenage girls, including a 14-year-old, when he was in his 30s. But it was the comedy show that drew viewers’ attention to the harm in Moore’s alleged behavior, while various people on the so-called news network attacked the credibility of the women in an effort to help Moore.
For example, last night SNL opened with a sketch taking on the Moore sex scandal with SNL’s Mikey Day playing a cowboy-attired Moore. First, Moore met with Mike Pence (SNL’s Beck Bennett) who comically expressed his concerns that the allegations were true: “It’s hard to convince people you’re not into young girls when you dress like ‘Woody’ from Toy Story.” SNL’s Pence then added on a serious note, “I want you to consider stepping aside.”
After Pence exited, SNL’s Kate McKinnon entered, reprising her hilarious role as Jeff Sessions. Sessions first noted that Moore had “been doing some controversial stuff,” reminding viewers of Moore’s actual record: “You wave a gun around on stage, tell folks Muslims shouldn’t be allowed in Congress and that 9/11 was God’s punishment for sodomy.” Sessions then declares: “I love it. You check a lot of boxes for me.”
But Sessions even expressed his concerns: “I’m usually the creepiest one in the room, but I look at you, and I’m like ‘Oh my God.’”
“I’m Alabama but you, you sir, are too Alabama. Get out.”
And on SNL’s Weekend Update, co-anchor Colin Jost joked about Moore wearing a cowboy outfit: “He looks like a guy who shows up in ‘Westworld’ and says, ‘Hey, can someone show me where the middle school is?’” (Weekend Update also comically took on the recent rash of sexual misconduct incidents involving Louie CK, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.)
But what did we see on Fox News? Spin, spin and some more spin all calculatingly designed to help Moore.
Sean Hannity, a Fox anchor, addressed the Moore story on his syndicated radio show shortly after the allegations broke Thursday. Hannity first attacked Republicans like John McCain who called for Moore to withdraw. “So now you’ve got the swamp, you’ve got the sewer, you’ve got the establishment – they hate Roy Moore…(he’s) somebody they can’t control,” he said.
Then Hannity jaw-droppingly agreed with his co-host that Moore’s relationships with the four then-teens were “consensual.” After a media firestorm erupted, however, Hannity backpedaled, saying he “misspoke” and he only meant Moore’s relationship with the older teenagers, not the 14-year-old, was consensual.
Despite Hannity claiming he “misspoke,” that night on his Fox News show he continued trying to help Moore. This time, though, it was by way of his guest who attacked the credibility of Moore’s accusers, saying “there are women that are victims of predators,” but they are “very few and far between.” Hannity didn’t push back at all. (In reality, studies have found only 2% to 10% of sexual assault claims are false.)
Then there was Fox News’ Gregg Jarrett who publicly questioned the credibility of Moore’s accusers. According to Jarrett, the validity of the claims is called into question because the news came from The Washington Post shortly before an election.
And on Saturday night, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro also sought to undermine the credibility of the four women by noting that the incident occurred 40 years ago. Her guest, Fox News contributor David Bossie, further tried to delegitimize the women by claiming that one of them was “a leftist activist in Alabama.” Of course, neither mentioned that Leigh Corfman, who was 14 at the time Moore allegedly touched her sexually, told the media she was a Republican who had voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
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In fairness, on Thursday Fox News’s Jesse Watters did call for Moore to withdraw. But the loudest voices on Fox News were attacking the four women in an effort to help Moore’s chances of winning the election. This response is even more disturbing considering the recent allegations of sexual misconduct directed at various Fox News anchors and its former president by women who worked there.
All of this is yet another example that just because a media outlet has the word “news” in its title that doesn’t mean they are actually providing viewers with news. And it’s yet another example of how comedy shows – SNL, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, etc. – are doing more than just making us laugh, they are making us better informed.