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J. Pepper Bryars: 10 questions the Washington Post should answer about its Roy Moore story

The editors and reporters at the Washington Post are normally the ones who ask the questions.

But the people of Alabama have a few questions themselves, and after the Washington Post dynamited our Senate election last week it owes us some answers.

Their article reported its revelations were unearthed while their journalists were in Etowah County covering another story focusing on Moore’s supporters. Two of those reporters heard, from someone, that the judge had dated teenagers when he was in his early 30s. So they did what good reporters do: They found and interviewed the accusers, verified the facts best they could, and then published a story.

Fair enough.

But this is a serious allegation that may have derailed an important election in Alabama, and our voters are owed more than the few hundred words or so about their investigation that the Washington Post chose to disclose.

Among the many questions the newspaper should answer, are these:

  1. Who told the Washington Post’s reporters about these rumors, and when?
  2. What is their connection to the story, the accusers, or to the judge?
  3. What steps were taken to determine their connection to the story and their motivation for passing it to the Washington Post?
  4. Why didn’t the Washington Post initially disclose the name of the person who alerted them to the story?
  5. Who introduced the Washington Post reporters to those who made the allegations, and how and when were they introduced?
  6. Did the Washington Post learn about any other similar allegations made by any of the accusers, and if so, what are they and why were they not included in the initial article?
  7. When did the Washington Post decide to send its reporters to Alabama to cover the judge, and why?
  8. How many employees of the Washington Post were in Alabama covering the story?
  9. What was the total amount of resources committed to the story, both in terms of hours and dollars?
  10. What resources has the Washington Post devoted to covering the Alabama Democratic Party’s nominee in the race?

Some of those questions have bearing on the allegations themselves. Others speak to the newspaper and the reliability of the information it reported, and the information that it may have chosen to withhold.

In an election this consequential, it’s only fair for the Washington Post to tell the people of Alabama absolutely everything it knows about their story, including how it was created.

Otherwise, doubts will linger and the truth will slip further from our grasp.

(Take this story over to social media and start a conversation with your family and friends.)

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