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Opinion The publisher of blasts back at legal threats from Roy Moore

Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore threatened to sue The Washington Post over a report that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with a minor. (Video: Judge Roy Moore for U.S. Senate/Facebook)
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After The Post published an investigative article documenting Roy Moore’s pursuit of a 14-year-old girl in 1979, the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama pledged to sue the newspaper. “The Washington Post published another attack on my character and reputation because they are desperate to stop my political campaign. These attacks said I was with a minor child and are false and untrue — and for which they will be sued,” Moore said a week ago during a campaign stop in Huntsville, Ala.

Turns out Moore was also concerned about a media outlet closer to home. Moore’s camp has twice threatened the Alabama Media Group, home to, according to a letter from a lawyer for the company. “You have accused of making ‘false reports and/or careless reporting’ about multiple subjects related to your clients,” reads the letter from John Thompson of Lightfoot Franklin White LLC. “Your letter demands that retract and recant its prior stories and that it ‘cease and desist’ from any further reporting about your clients,” reads the letter.

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“ hereby rejects your demand,” it continues.

Michelle Holmes, vice president of content for Alabama Media Group (AMG), tells the Erik Wemple Blog that the company lacks specificity on just what stories have offended Roy Moore, Kayla Moore and their Foundation for Moral Law. “As the letter outlines, these demands appear to be a show more than they are a serious attempt to question what we believe to be fully legitimate, serious reporting,” says Holmes. The letter states, “You have not explained how anything that has reported is untrue, inaccurate or erroneous, nor do you provide any support for your position.”

A Nov. 14 letter from Trenton Garmon of Garmon & Liddon LLC broadly cites “false reports” and mentions reporting about a “fifth woman” who alleged misconduct by Moore; Moore’s signing of a yearbook even though “experts” have confirmed the signature is “not consistent with his handwriting”; and the contention that Moore was “banned” from the Gadsden Mall.

As a target of authoritarian-style intimidation, AMG makes some sense for Moore & Co. In addition to, the company runs the state’s three largest newspapers — the Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times and Press-Register of Mobile — and is part of Advance Local, a network that stitches together sites across the country. “I think they recognize that the viewpoint of Alabamians is what matters most, and if they can silence us, they would love to do it. They’re not going to be able to do it,” says Holmes.

Not content to merely play defense against the threats from Moore, the AMG letter notes that litigation from the Senate candidate would “also reveal other important information about your clients.” In that spirit, it gives notice to Moore & Co. that they are to preserve all “materials, documents, writings, recordings, statements, notes, letters, journals, diaries, calendars, emails, videos, computers, cell phones, electronic data, and other information” related to these matters. Which is to say: Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Moore.