A conservative activist group tried to target Washington Post reporters, planting a source with a false allegation against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
But instead of publishing the story of “Jaime Phillips,” who claimed Moore impregnated her at 15 and helped her get an abortion, the Post exposed the plot and foiled the operation to dupe its journalists.
After the Post first published allegations on November 9 that Moore pursued relationships with teenagers and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old, the newspaper has been dogged by easily disprovable allegations that sources were biased, paid, or both.
The conservative group Project Veritas and its controversial founder, James O’Keefe, apparently wanted to help cast doubt on the women’s stories. The group targets media and left-leaning organizations by secretly filming them. In 2010, O’Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after a ploy in which two men posed as telephone repairmen and tried to enter the office of then-Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
Instead, Project Veritas ended up showing how thorough the Post’s reporting really was.
The sting began, according to the Post, when a woman reached out to Beth Reinhard, one of the reporters who broke the story of Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct. “Roy Moore in Alabama . . . I might know something but I need to keep myself safe,” the source emailed Reinhard. “How do we do this?”
The story details the reporters’ follow-up with the woman, who identified herself as Jaime Phillips and claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Moore as a teen in Alabama. She became pregnant, she claimed, and Moore drove her to get an abortion in Mississippi. The Post says she pressed the reporters over whether the story would hurt Moore’s chances in the senatorial race.
Inconsistencies in Phillips’s explosive stories quickly raised suspicion. The place she gave as her employer had no record of her. An online search uncovered a GoFundMe account page registered to a Jaime Phillips who was moving to New York “to combat the lies and deceipt of the liberal MSM.” She claimed in an interview filmed by Washington Post videographers that she was interviewing for a job at the Daily Caller, but the woman she named as her interviewer wasn’t actually employed at the conservative website.
At the end of that interview, Phillips said, “I think I probably just want to cancel and not go through with it at this point.”
The Post says the woman was later spotted entering the New York offices of Project Veritas.
The founder of Project Veritas, O’Keefe, did not respond to questions about the woman’s identity. But he swiftly reacted to the story on Twitter. He posted a video of him “confronting” a Washington Post reporter who tried to follow up with O’Keefe about Phillips and her story.
“There is a video coming out in momentarily inside the Washington Post,” O’Keefe wrote. “The last video cost NYT reporter his job. They are scared. As always, there’s more than one Video!”
He soon posted footage that claimed to show a correspondent and another Post employee “discussing WaPO’s hidden agenda.” The video actually features a reporter explaining the difference between news and editorial at the newspaper.