NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity has put Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore on notice: explain "inconsistencies" in his response to allegations of child molestation or exit the Alabama race.
Hannity, on his show Tuesday evening, gave Moore 24 hours.
"We deserve answers — consistent answers — and truth," he said.
Moore responded Wednesday that he never dated "underage girls" but said his lawyer advised him not to comment further.
Hannity is generally among the most reliable and consistent media supporters of President Donald Trump and the conservative cause and his ratings — he had the most-watched show on cable television news last month — speak to his influence. Moore's only detailed interview about last week's Washington Post's story of his involvement with teenage girls when he was in his 30s was on Hannity's radio show.
"Hannity will likely have more pull than anybody else in convincing Moore supporters to tell Moore to leave the race, more than any of the senators who dropped their endorsement," wrote Carl Arbogast in the conservative blog Redstate.com on Wednesday.
Hannity said he was troubled by different answers Moore had given to questions about whether he had dated teenage girls. He also noted that Moore had denied knowing a fifth accuser who had charged the future Senate candidate with sexual assault three decades ago, yet it appeared that Moore had written in the teen's yearbook.
Two Fox News panelists on Hannity's show Monday, Jeanine Pirro and Geraldo Rivera, both said after the emergence of the latest accuser that they could not support Moore.
Also Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, another conservative bellwether, wrote that "a famous country song aptly summed up where the Republicans are with Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama: You've got to know when to fold 'em."
"Mr. Moore's credibility has fallen below the level of survivability," the Journal wrote.