Tuesday on “CNN Tonight,” Breitbart senior editor at large Joel Pollak took on “CNN Tonight” fill-in host Chris Cuomo on the merits of the accusations leveled at Alabama U.S. Senate hopeful Roy Moore.
According to reports, accusers said Moore acted inappropriately or engaged in sexual misconduct and Pollak and Cuomo focused on how the public, Alabama voters and President Donald Trump have reacted to those reports.
Pollak also forced Cuomo to concede he was using a Media Matters talking point to attack Pollak’s colleague, Breitbart editor in chief Alex Marlow, about what is considered to be rape on the college campus.
Transcript as follows:
CUOMO: You put it all together and now the President backing Moore is no shocker at all. The question is, is it a good thing? Well, that depends on what you value and what team you’re on. That takes us to our first guest. Someone who will surely be smiling, Joel Pollak, senior editor at large for Breitbart. Good to have you, sir.
POLLAK: Good to be with you.
CUOMO: You like the move. Why?
POLLAK: Well, I think most people in Alabama have made up their minds whether they believe Roy Moore or not. So now the race actually shifts to looking at the Democrat, Doug Jones. And he is not the kind of Democrat that the party used to nominate to run in red states or red districts. He is far to the left. He has positions on gun control, on abortion, onthe border that are far to the left of most Alabama voters. So it’s natural that the public focuses on his record and decide whether he is a capable representative of the state today or not. And that is where Donald Trump went today. Saying look, we don’t need a liberal Democrats in that scene, I think that is going to be the next phase of this debate.
CUOMO: Well, there’s a few assumptions in there, right, Joel? I mean, obviously, this is in part about the math. The GOP needs the seat. Trump needs the seat. But it is at what cost? You said they made up their minds about Moore. Now they move to Jones. I don’t know about that because it seems to put on balance on a moral issue, and a potential criminal issue not in terms of prosecutions, you know the statute of limitations it’s not going to happen. But this isn’t just another political issue. This guy sought on crime. This guy was accused by someone who was 14 years old that the time. Those aren’t apples to apples.
POLLAK: Well, you know tribal behavior in American politics is not new. Back in 2000, Democrats in Missouri elected a dead man to the Senate ahead of John Ashcroft. You rather have a living person than a dead person in the senate although even the low ratings of Congress, I am not sure anymore. But these kinds of things happen. Jessie Jackson Jr. was re-elected when he was under federal investigation and later went to jail. And the question for voters isn’t really about what happened 40 years ago, people might be angry about it, but the real question are the issues they’re facing today whether it’s taxes, foreign policy, and immigration. And voters really want to have someone in Congress who reflects their preferences. Now obviously, character counts and all is fair, love, war, and politics, but I think voters are starting to look at issues as well. And Doug Jones, the Democrat is doing the smart thing by trying to run on those issues, and you’re going to start to see the Moore campaign transition to that as well.
CUOMO: But what is this about is an echo effect of how we respect women who come forward, and one of the confusing things here is the president seemed to speak to that today. Let’s play the sound of the president talking about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Women are very special. I think it’s a very special time,
because a lot of things are coming out, and I think that is good for our society. And I think it’s very, very good for women. And I’m very happy a lot of these things are coming out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe the accusers?
TRUMP: I’m very happy it’s being exposed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: He is happy it’s being exposed, it’s a good thing. But then he, you know, just by implication, says that the women, he doesn’t believe them. He believes the denial of Roy Moore. Let me ask you just for context — do you believe the accusers in this situation, Joel?
POLLAK: Well, I think Trump was saying something different than what you are imputing to him. I think he has or the White House says that the accusers are credible and at the same time, Trump said he finds Roy Moore credible. Now, which side is conclusive? We don’t know, and it is very difficult when you have these accusations to find out who is telling the truth. My impression is, I believe Roy believes he is telling the truth. I believe that he thinks this never happened, I think that some of the allegations that are made about him are more credible than others.
I think Gloria Allred did her client no favor when she refused to submit that yearbook to independent forensic analysis before having some kind of political surface in the Senate, which she wanted before the election. So, voters are going to look at that and say we can’t really decide what happened 40 years ago. Both sides seem pretty convince to telling the truth. We have to look at what they’re saying now, how they’re behaving now. And they’re looking at Roy Moore, and coming out with teams of lawyers disputing this and that. And for his supporters, that is going to be enough. For people not with Roy Moore in the beginning, that is not going to be enough. As I said earlier, I think basically they have made up more minds. Right now it is going to be about issues and Doug Jones and whether he is too liberal for Alabama.
CUOMO: But this an issue too obviously. That’s why its loomed so large. You know both sides can’t be credible right?
POLLAK: Both sides can be credible. You can have people going through difference experiences and telling different stories.
CUOMO: Not all accusations are equal that is of course true. That is so obvious, but I was saying in its context, because of what we’re seeing in this movement now. As we see more and more accusations come up, you have to see a fresh appraisal each time. However, when a 14-year-old, you know, at the time, perceives that she is being touched by somebody, the other person says, ‘Yeah, no, that is not what happened.’ One of them is not telling the truth. You understand?
POLLAK: Sure. But we’ve also seen instances where these kind of allegations are made, and they fall apart later. My law professor in Harvard, Alan Dershowitz was accused of having underage sex with a woman on Jeffrey Epstein’s airplane, and he vigorously denied it.
CUOMO: Both sides were not credible there either. Dershowitz was credible. The other side was B.S. That is why it went away.
POLLAK: If you look at the media coverage at the time, there were certainly many outlets that credited her accusation based on the principle that we should always believe what the accuser says. There are often sides that are credible, and you have to decide which one is conclusive. That is what juries have to do in court cases.
CUOMO: It just seems, though, this is a reflective of a movement that is going on in the country. You are absolutely right that the issues matter to people. You just have to add this in with an issue, and it looks pretty large because we are talking about some pretty pernicious allegations. This is a young women, an older man in his 30s and what his behavior was like, that is why it means so much to people. And it will come down to voters, because there’s no other vetting. That is why the moral agency of politicians has become so important. That is why we were chasing, and you guys as well to hear what the GOP leadership would say, what the president would say. And the silence was deafening. Right Joel, I mean Trump never really delays talking about anything if he wants to. Here he was quiet. Why do you think he was quiet so long?
POLLAK: Well, I think the facts had to come out. You had the development of some facts. You had allegations and some responses. Some of the allegations are frivolous. I saw on CNN today there was a story about how Roy Moore first noticed his wife, when she was 15 or 16. That is just frivolous, he didn’t marry her until eight years later.
CUOMO: Why is it frivolous? Is it untrue?
POLLAK: It is completely frivolous, I met my wife when she was 17, other people had met their wives when — it makes no difference at all unless you’re trying to use that to corroborate allegations that have nothing to do with that perfectly legal behavior.
CUOMO: But why are you making that leap? Roy Moore wrote in his book that he noticed her, right? I knew Kala was going to be a special person in my life. Moore wrote about it when he first saw her when she was 15 years old. He wrote it again dating her when she was 23. A year before before they married.
POLLAK: He wrote this book, because it is completely uncontroversial that CNN made a big news story out of it today in order to make it look like there’s something sinister about being someone —
CUOMO: Isn’t that the way you took it? And it’s contextual this is a pattern for this man, that he does take notice of women at that age. I mean how is that frivolous?
POLLAK: It’s not frivolous if you’re judging his character, but it’s frivolous in a legal sense. And you’re accusing him of doing something that is illegal. And when presentation is made that these legal relationships are somehow related to something he did which is illegal, then you’re smearing the man essentially by lumping in his relationship with his wife, which as far as we know has been solid — 32 years with four kids, I don’t know how many grandkids with relationships that he had when he was single in this murky area that nobody really care —
CUOMO: I would be careful, because you are drawing a lot — I know you guys like to do this, but you’re drawing a lot of implications from something where they weren’t said. This is once again where he noticed a young woman, he thought something about her, and he remembered it years later and wound up marrying her. It is what it is. What you decide to make it into as instructive of that is much on the reader and anybody else. But why is all of this important?
Because we’re at a very sensitive time in terms of how we understand this behavior towards women. And what we want to endorse and what we want to stop. And that is why when the President says, well, he denies it. That is good enough for me. And we see further muddying of it coming from Alex Marlow. Alex Marlow says, great, what is it, man? It used to be clear. Now it seems to be any sex that the woman ends up regretting that she had. Do you believe that? Do you believe that you’re not really sure when something’s rape, Joel?
POLLAK: You know, I knew you were going to bring this quote on. It’s the Media Matters pull quote. I guess it goes around the talking points, but what is interesting —
CUOMO: Yeah, yeah answer the question. What do you think, Joel?
POLLAK: I’m going to get there.
CUOMO: Go ahead.
POLLAK: People need to know where the quote comes from. It left out what Alex said at the beginning. He was talking about campus culture and the situation where young men are being accused on campus. There are famous cases such as the “Mattress Girl” at Columbia University who claimed that she has been rape, when it turned out it was consensual sex between her and a young man and his life was ruined in Columbia, because of this accusations.
She became a national celebrity, a symbol of victim’s right. He actually turned around and sued the University, and they had to come out and apologize. So what Alex is talking about is true — there are situations where this happens. And there are debates what constitutes consensual sex or not. You got to include that context —
CUOMO: Listen, you can keep saying Media Matters, it’s not a dog-whistle here. You can as much as you want, who care, and I don’t care, where else —
POLLAK: Have you listened to the interview?
CUOMO: No, I have the quote that says rape used to have a narrow definition. Rape used to have a definition from where it was.
It’s from Alex Marlow. It’s a sound on tape.
POLLAK: Chris, you took the tape from a partisan activist group called Media Matters.
Do you think context matter?
CUOMO: You can’t come up with a context where it is not —
POLLAK: You are dangerous to its allegations —
CUOMO: You ignore what’s rape and what isn’t rape … What we’re dealing with in our culture right now Joel is we’re trying to figure out how you treat women and how you don’t treat women. And when you say something like who knows what rape is anymore, and when you say something the guy denies it, and that is good enough for me, it sends a message. Are you concerned about that message at all, or do the politics of having a seat in the senate just overpower it?
POLLAK: You know, there are serious allegations right now against CNN. It happened to be allegations of racial discrimination. Hundred-seventy-five plaintiffs in the nest lawsuit that is going to be filed, we are told 205 plaintiffs, this are very serious allegations. Do you think you work for a racist organization? Do you think you have to take those accusers at their word?
CUOMO: No. There’s an ongoing litigation. We won’t have ongoing litigation here. You have to make a decision about it You can distract all you like. I’ll give you an A for effort, but what I’m saying at the end of the day either you’re worried about these kinds of signals, or you’re not.
You ducked the question the first time. Thanksgiving’s coming. I’ll give you a second bite of the apple. Are you concerned when he denies it that is enough for me, we need that seat in the Senate, and the other guy is a Democrat are you concerned about that kind of politics? Are you ok with it?
POLLAK: I’m concerned about sexual harassment against women outside the context of politics and inside the context of politics. And I think when these allegations come up during political season, before election days, that people are trying to believe one side or the other base on their political allegiances.
And so it’s actually bad for victims when their claims are handled in this way. A lot of people in Alabama are wondering why this didn’t come out earlier. That is not just to question the credibility of the victim, but they would have liked to have known this earlier because it’s very serious information if it’s true. And even if it isn’t, it is a serious allegation.
And they would have liked to pick a candidate that wasn’t in the middle of this sort of thing. Those victims are not going to be believed if they deserve to be believe said, and they do deserve to be listened to, if it happens this way. I am not saying it comes up during election season, it happens. But outside the context, we have to care not just when Hollywood’s imploding and not just when Charlie Rose is getting fired from CBS. And not just when a Senate seat is up for grabs. It has to be important all the time.
CUOMO: ..then every time it happens you have to respect it, and you have to give it the dignity of hearing them out, and not attacking them and not telling a different back story about who they are, and assailing the timing and ignoring the fact they don’t want to come forward. They don’t want to get picked apart by people. Last word. We got to go.
POLLAK: The legal principle is there’s always two sides. Both sides deserve to be heard. We’re not in the business of star chambers, kangaroo courts and mob justice and you have to hear the other side. It’s up to the voters of Alabama to decide whether they think Roy Moore is more credible than his accusers and decide Doug Jones is too liberal for the state. And it’s a tragedy people are weighing these things in their mind. Perhaps it does hurt the broader issue. That is the situation we’re in, and that is what the voters of Alabama are going to have to wrestle with.
CUOMO: Joel Pollak, I appreciate you being on the show. Thank you for taking the opportunity. Good Thanksgiving to you and your family.
Follow Breitbart.tv on Twitter @BreitbartVideo