A right-wing media figure allegedly knew he was sending lewd messages to underage girls — but conservative news outlets refused to run the story when the girls came forward.
Right Wing Watch reported that Michael Moates, the 23-year-old who identifies himself as the chairman of the DC Chronicle nonprofit news blog, flirted with and made “inappropriate” sexual comments towards a number of teen girls on Twitter.
Sixteen-year-old Purity Thomas, the leader of a pro-life youth group, came forward on August 23 by posting a statement claiming Moates is “disgusting” and that he knew her age while “flirting” with her.
Please read. Please help and share. 🖤 pic.twitter.com/0d9v5zmuiy
— Purity Thomas (@PurityJThomas) August 23, 2018
Within 10 minutes of Thomas’ statement, the DC Chronicle co-founder made his own statement — albeit vague.
“The fact that you can’t call a woman beautiful without offending them anymore is a problem,” he wrote in the now-protected tweet.
After exchanging stories about their experiences at right-wing protests, Thomas claimed that Moates began flirting with her, calling her “purdy” (a take on Southern slang for “pretty” and her name, Purity) and “crazy beautiful.” The comments made her feel uncomfortable and she decided she wouldn’t let the blogger near “her team” of teen anti-abortion activists.
In September, Moates defended himself to Carl Higbie, the former Trump appointee who was ousted after his racist comments on his radio show were revealed.
“Yes, she was beautiful,” he told Higbie, adding that Thomas never told him it “bothered her” and that she “made it sexual” with her interpretation.
“Moates repeatedly asserted during the podcast that he did not sexually harass Thomas, although Thomas has not accused him of doing so,” RWW noted. “During the interview, Moates did not mention that Thomas was 16 years old when he made his comments to her.”
After the teen came forward, she said she began receiving messages from other young women with similar experiences.
Seventeen-year-old Hadassah Cohen was new to Twitter when Moates began following her and gave her a shout-out on his own feed, causing her to gain followers. She messaged him to thank him for the boost, but “the conversation quickly entered inappropriate territory.”
Cohen alleged that she was drafted as an unpaid writer for a new pro-Trump news site Moates had started and was even once told she was the site’s editor-in-chief, although the blogger later referred to her as an “intern.”
The girl said Moates once told her she “couldn’t possibly be telling the truth that I was a proud virgin, that I had indeed never kissed a boy, because I was too gorgeous for that” when she was 16.
“I didn’t know what to say,” Cohen told RWW. “I think I was kind of dumbfounded.”
She followed up her claim with screenshots of some of the direct messages where Moates was “inappropriate sexually” with her.
Everyone wants to see evidence of Michael being inappropriate sexually with a minor, so…I delivered. pic.twitter.com/cA6OvIjju0
— Hadassah Cohen (@hadassahacohen) September 3, 2018
“It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out he wanted me to ask him questions of sexual nature,” Cohen said. “He continued to harp on me about how I didn’t have a boyfriend, how I hadn’t kissed anyone, and that it was my fault that I didn’t have a boyfriend.”
The report noted that during his interview with Higbie, Moates accused Cohen of trying to “smear” him by taking his messages out of context. He then cited the First Amendment and said the girl continued to write for his website after he made the comments.
After Cohen came forward, The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay tweeted that Moates was intent on filing a libel lawsuit against the girls who claimed he sexually harassed them.
“He was also adamant that unsolicited comments about how beautiful a woman is are definitely not sexual harassment,” Markay noted.
Just had a fun conversation with @freedom_moates, who said he plans to file libel lawsuits against a bunch of conservative women accusing him of sexual harassment. He was also adamant that unsolicited comments about how beautiful a woman is are definitely not sexual harassment.
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) September 4, 2018
Thomas told RWW that she and the group of young women affected by Moates reached out to “several” conservative news outlets but were turned away because of the blogger’s lawsuit threat.
“We decided we should take it to conservative media,” she said. “I mean, this is a conservative guy being inappropriate to conservative girls, so we have the conservatives handle this. This is their job, right? You would think. They need to man up and own one of their people.”
Read the entire report via Right Wing Watch.