For weeks, Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore and supporters of his Alabama campaign have attacked the journalistic integrity of The Washington Post for publishing what they say are false allegations that Moore sexually harassed teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
But in a display of poetic justice Monday, a sting operation attempting to discredit the Post’s reporting backfired and instead demonstrated that its staff takes extensive measures to verify sources’ claims.
The Post detailed the ordeal in a story on its site Monday.
Earlier this month, a woman named Jaime T. Phillips approached the paper with allegations that Moore, in his 40s at the time, had impregnated her when she was 15. After about two weeks of interviews with her, the Post confronted her about inconsistencies in her story and about a GoFundMe page under her name announcing a new job working “in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt [sic] of the liberal MSM,” or mainstream media.
Phillips ceased contact with the Post after being confronted with its findings, and on Monday, Post staffers spotted Phillips walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, a group infamous for its attempts to target the media and left-leaning groups through undercover operations. Its hope is that news outlets will fall for its false information and prove Project Veritas’ claim that the mainstream media can’t be trusted.
Because of our customary journalistic rigor, we weren’t fooled. Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron
After spotting Phillips go into the Project Veritas office on Monday, the Post confronted its founder, James O’Keefe, who was convicted in 2010 for using a fake identity to enter a federal building during another sting attempt. He refused to answer repeated questions as to whether Phillips was employed by Project Veritas and whether he was working with Moore’s campaign.
The Post’s discoveries about Phillips and her possible relationship with Project Veritas were enough for the paper to publish her off-the-record comments.
“[T]his so-called off-the-record conversation was the essence of a scheme to deceive and embarrass us,” Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said Monday. “The intent by Project Veritas clearly was to publicize the conversation if we fell for the trap. Because of our customary journalistic rigor, we weren’t fooled, and we can’t honor an ‘off-the-record’ agreement that was solicited in maliciously bad faith.”
This is only the latest in apparent sting attempts against the Post in light of its bombshell Moore report. Earlier this month, at least one person received a robocall from someone impersonating a Post reporter and offering thousands of dollars for “damaging remarks” about Moore.