The anti-Trump conservative magazine National Review has a peculiar obsession with me.
Over the past week, it has attacked me in no fewer than five articles over my comments last Thursday, the first day of the Roy Moore controversy.
Though I told MSNBC that sexual misconduct was disqualifying for public office, my particular thoughtcrime was distinguishing between legal and illegal conduct in the Washington Post‘s allegations against him.
The full video of my comments has been up on Breitbart.com since a few hours after the interview last Thursday. Anyone who watched it would note that I said: “We can all agree that anybody who commits sexual misconduct in the workplace has no business running for public office.”
I added: “If you read the [Washington Post] article, there are several cases mentioned, and of those cases, only one would have been legally problematic.”
I was referring to the fact that of Moore’s original accusers, one was 14 years old, while three were “between the ages of 16 and 18,” in the Post‘s words. Moreover, while Moore was accused of molesting the 14-year-old, “None of the three women say that Moore forced them into any sort of relationship or sexual contact,” the Post said. Moore was also accused of having provided wine to one of the three, but that was a separate legal issue from their alleged relationship.
I also said, “We’ll have to see where the facts go on this,” allowing that Moore could be implicated by further revelations. I simply pointed out the odd decision of the Post to suggest a broader pattern of behavior by lumping allegations of illegal with legal conduct.
But the Post story seemed strange, and its origins vague. Moreover, the key accusation against Moore deserved to be scrutinized especially carefully given its timing, just a few weeks before an election.
That is not a demand for judicial “due process.” It is simply a plea for decency over media hysteria.
Oddly, the past victims of false allegations in campaign season did not see it that way. Nor did the writers at National Review.
The first to pounce was Theodore Kupfer: “How many 14-year olds saying Roy Moore touched them would it take to disturb Joel Pollak?” he asked, rhetorically. “The answer is probably that he’d defend as many as Steve Bannon tells him to defend.”
Kupfer did exactly what left-wing Media Matters and ShareBlue did, which was to conflate my remarks about three out of the four women who were of legal age at the time with the one accuser who was not.
Next was Jonah Goldberg: “Breitbart’s Joel Pollack [sic] doesn’t cite scripture and doesn’t condone molesting teenage girls. He just wants to quibble about what a teenager is.” Nothing about the difference between legal and illegal conduct.
In an exchange on Twitter, Goldberg admitted he had not actually watched the full video of my interview. He referred to a clip identical to one that had been circulated on the left — one that deliberately left out the legal context.
Then Kupfer tried again, citing Goldberg as he argued that Breitbart News was “trying to distract its readers from the Roy Moore sex scandal,” though he admitted it was our lead story.
Next up was Katherine Timpf: “[I]f your defense of a pedophile is actually ‘But he only molested one kid!’ then I’d say it’s pretty clear you need to take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror and wonder why the sight of yourself doesn’t make you start throwing up.”
Again, a total distortion of what I had said.
Finally, along came Alexandra Desanctis, arguing that “Moore Defenders Betray Conservative Women,” citing Kupfer’s original attack. Challenged to defend her claims on Twitter, Desanctis said: “Due-process rights have nothing to do with evaluating these accusations, which are clearly substantiated and credible.”
I had never cited “due-process rights” — something of a straw man, which National Review‘s David French also attacked. Oh well.
I do not quite understand National Review‘s fixation with me, or why no one there could argue against my point of view without distorting what I had said.
A liberal acquaintance told me recently, half-jokingly, that he “hated” me because I made it harder to cast Breitbart News as a basket of deplorables. Perhaps that is why the National Review keeps attacking me, as do Twitter trolls Bari Weiss of the New York Times and Commentary‘s John Podhoretz.
I will freely admit that Breitbart News has a bias, and that bias affects the filter through which we interpret the world. In the Roy Moore case, the fact that we gave positive coverage to his insurgent campaign, which was backed by our chairman, could have made us more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.
But that applies equally to National Review, in the opposite direction: they barely even bothered with the word “alleged.”
Many — not all — of the writers at National Review remain wounded by 2016. They inveighed “Against Trump” in the primary. They expected him to lose, and they were wrong. I extended an olive branch, to them and others, before the election.
But they will not forgive Trump for winning, or for governing as a conservative. They are gratified by his mistakes. I am just the latest target of their frustrations.
Whatever. Just get over last November, and stop lying about me.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.