Shortly after The Washington Post published a bombshell story alleging that former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore molested women and pursued girls young enough to be his daughters in the 1970s and 1980s, a woman reached out to the paper with what sounded like a horrifying tale. She claimed that in 1992, she’d had an abortion after getting pregnant as a teenager–and the baby was Moore’s.
But something about this woman’s story didn’t pass the smell test. Further investigation revealed that the woman’s story was a complete fraud. It also looks like this woman was working hand-in-glove with an organization notorious for using deceptively edited videos to smear liberals and the media. That organization seems to be engaging in a misguided effort to help Moore’s flagging campaign for Jeff Sessions’ old Senate seat.
On November 10–morning after the original story went live–one of its authors, Beth Reinhard, received an email from a woman claiming that she “might know something” about Moore. The woman, who later identified herself as Jaime Phillips, eventually set up a meeting with Reinhard at a mall in Tysons Corner, Virginia.
Phillips claimed that she’d met Moore in 1992, while she was spending the summer with an aunt in Alabama. They supposedly began a “secret” sexual relationship that resulted in her getting pregnant at 15; he took her to Mississippi to get an abortion. She’d supposedly thought about coming forward when the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, but decided to take the plunge after learning about The Post’s story.
Red flags surfaced almost immediately. Phillips asked for assurances that any story The Post wrote would sink Moore’s campaign. More seriously, she provided a cell phone number with an Alabama area code after claiming she hadn’t set foot there since her teen years. Additionally, the mortgage company in Westchester County where she claimed to work had no record of her ever working there.
But perhaps the biggest red flag of all was the discovery of a GoFundMe campaign in which a person named Jaime Phillips was trying to finance a move to New York “to work in the conservative media movement.” She wanted to use her research skills to help ferret out “the lies and deceipt (sic) of the MSM.”
On the day before Thanksgiving, Phillips met with one of the other writers of the November 9 story, Stephanie McCrummen. Apparently The Post smelled a rat, because a couple of the paper’s in-house videographers came along. When McCrummen confronted Phillips about the GoFundMe page, Phillips claimed she had tried to get a job at The Daily Caller last summer, but it fell through. She then decided she wasn’t interested in talking to The Post, and walked out.
No editors at The Daily Caller recalled ever interviewing a Jaime Phillips. The contact person Phillips provided doesn’t appear to exist. Later that night, her GoFundMe page was updated to say the campaign was successful.
There matters rested until Monday, when reporters for The Post discovered Phillips walking into the Westchester County headquarters of Project Veritas, the pseudojournalism outfit infamous for its “sting” operations that are supposedly intended to expose media bias. In truth, their videos and recordings are frequently edited several miles out of context. In a number of cases, they have strayed into out-and-out illegal conduct, such as entering then-Senator Mary Landrieu’s office under false pretenses and numerous attempts to commit voter fraud. Phillips’ car stayed at Project Veritas for over an hour.
Project Veritas’ head honcho, James O’Keefe, refused to answer any questions about whether Phillips worked for him, or about any ties Project Veritas had with the Moore campaign. Nevertheless, The Post had seen enough to tear up its agreement to keep Phillips’ statements off the record.
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) November 27, 2017
O’Keefe’s only response so far has been to whine that The Post has a hidden agenda.
The entire media establishment is against Project Veritas. Number one trending on Twitter. For good reason. There is a video coming out in momentarily inside the Washington Post. The last video cost NYT reporter his job. They are scared. As always, there’s more than one Video!
— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) November 27, 2017
The video was released soon after The Post’s fisking of Phillips went live. It claims that Post owner Jeff Bezos pulls a lot of puppet strings at the august paper. You’ll have to take our word for it–we don’t give people who plant false accusations of sexual assault any views.
It should come as no surprise that after this stunt, O’Keefe and Project Veritas have been pilloried on Twitter.
There has to be a special place in hell for scumbags like James O’Keefe and Mike Cernovich who have tried to exploit a movement of women finally having a voice to tell their stories and be believed, and try to corrode it for their cheap partisan gain.
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) November 27, 2017
James O'Keefe is the Inspector Clouseau of undercover investigators. https://t.co/gzo1nvgSTZ
— Jeff Greenfield (@greenfield64) November 27, 2017
Want to see some real irony? This little stunt may have actually torpedoed Moore’s plans to sue The Post for libel. As a public figure, Moore must prove that The Post either knowingly ran bogus stories about him, or wrote them with reckless disregard for the truth. But this story proves just how thoroughly The Post vetted any accusations against Moore. Remember, the original story only ran after three weeks of rigorous fact-checking.
It also marks the third time in as many weeks that Moore or his allies have made themselves look foolish in efforts to claim that the media is out to get them. If you’ll remember, Moore’s spokesmen claimed to have court documents showing that one of the original accusers lied about her address. But when The Post tried to verify those documents, the Moore team refused, saying that it had no intention of sharing them with a “worthless piece of crap.”
Here’s a news flash, Roy. What happened in the last few weeks was an example of what a real news organization is supposed to do. If actually verifying facts makes you a “worthless piece of crap,” then it’s yet more evidence that you aren’t fit to serve in the Senate.
(featured image courtesy Moore’s Facebook)