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Washington Post Exposes Conservative Scheme To Dupe It With False Roy Moore Accusation

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A woman tied to James O’Keefe, the so-called conservative media “watchdog” who has engineered “sting operations” aimed at media organizations, government officials, and others in the past and was once convicted of a Federal crime due to one of his schemes was caught by The Washington Post trying to fool them into running a story about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore:

A woman with ties to a right-wing activist group falsely claimed to The Washington Post that she had conceived a child with Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, when she was 15, the newspaper reported on Monday afternoon.

The woman, identified by the paper as Jaime T. Phillips, claimed in recent interviews with reporters that she had an abortion after having sex with Mr. Moore in 1992. But The Post said that it had discovered inconsistencies in her account and evidence that the woman concocted the sensational claim to try to dupe reporters and coax them into discussing the political impact her story could have on Mr. Moore.

A reporter with The Post confronted the woman about the holes in her story on Wednesday and then Post journalists saw her on Monday morning entering the offices of Project Veritas, a conservative group that films undercover videos. The organization, led by the activist James O’Keefe, has recently targeted journalists, trying to goad them into revealing biases or unethical schemes to discredit the news media.

“The intent by Project Veritas clearly was to publicize the conversation if we fell for the trap,” Martin Baron, the executive editor at The Post, was quoted as saying. “Because of our customary journalistic rigor, we weren’t fooled.”

A reporter and a videographer with The Post questioned Mr. O’Keefe on Monday outside his group’s office in Mamaroneck, N.Y., about Ms. Phillips’s apparent connections with Project Veritas.

“I am not doing an interview right now, so I’m not going to say a word,” Mr. O’Keefe responded.

Ms. Phillips first contacted The Post in a mysterious email on Nov. 9, the newspaper reported. It was sent just hours after the newspaper had published a story about Leigh Corfman, who said she was 14 years old when Mr. Moore, then 32, engaged in a sexual encounter with her. “Roy Moore in Alabama,” the email to a Post reporter read, according to the story. “I might know something but I need to keep myself safe.”

A reporter at The Post interviewed Ms. Phillips again on Wednesday at a restaurant in Virginia. In that interview, which was partly recorded on video by The Post, the reporter pressed Ms. Phillips about apparent inaccuracies in her past work experiences and about why she had decided to contact the newspaper. The woman then said she no longer wanted to participate in the story.

While researching the woman’s account, The Post found a GoFundMe fund-raising page under the same name as the woman. That woman said she was moving to New York for a new job. “I’ve accepted a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt of the liberal MSM,” the page said, according to The Post. “I’ll be using my skills as a researcher and fact-checker to help our movement.”

The apparent elaborate effort to dupe The Post into publishing false claims about Mr. Moore follows similar schemes to discredit the newspaper and other news media. Mr. Moore has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct, and a campaign official called the claims ”a fabricated November surprise.”

The full story of how the Post figured out that they were being duped and the rather amusing tale of how they confronted Phillips as her story is worth reading for its entertainment value alone. In essence, Phillips approached the Post reporter who wrote the initial report about Moore with claims that she too had been abused by Moore when she was underage. This story included the claim that Moore had sex with her when she was under 16 and he was an Assistant District Attorney in the 1970s, that she became pregnant as a result of those encounters,  and that he drove her to Mississippi to have an abortion. If nothing else, it does expose the ridiculous lengths that conservatives like O’Keefe are going to defend Moore and deflect attention away from the corroborated reports from nine different women that he either physically molested them when they were under 16 years old, which was and remains the age of consent in Alabama, or how he attempted to pursue relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was an Assistant District Attorney. Once reporters were unable to find any evidence to corroborate these claims and looked closer at Phillips itself, including the fact that she had posted on the Internet about going to work for O’Keefe and his “watchdog” organization Project Veritas, the rest of the story collapsed like a proverbial house of cards.

This isn’t the first time that O’Keefe and his organization have been at the center of what amount to what he claims to be investigative journalism but which often seems to amount to actual or attempted fraud. As Greg Sargent notes, O’Keefe first came on the scene when he claimed to have duped staffers for ACORN to given him advice on setting up a prostitution business. The claims included what was later exposed to be a deceptively edited video of his encounters with several ACORN employees and volunteers. These deceptions weren’t uncovered, though, until the damage had been done and ACORN effectively ceased to exist. As a result of litigation in the aftermath of that scam, O’Keefe agreed to pay one ACORN employee $100,000 in settlement of their claims against him and his organization. Bringing down ACORN, though, is what led to O’Keefe becoming a star inside the conservative movement and garnered him invitations to speak at prominent events on the right such as CPAC and other events.

After the ACORN event, O’Keefe became involved in a number of bizarre failed schemes in which he attempted to expose media bias, or something One of the strangest involved a CNN reporter in which he apparently intended to seduce her for some reason. In another effort, O’Keefe was caught posing as a telephone repairman attempting to gain access to the regional office of former Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu in what was apparently an attempt to bug her office. O’Keefe pled guilty in connection with that scheme and spent several years under the supervision of Federal Court probation, which frequently required him to seek Court permission to travel outside his home in New Jersey to speak at conservative events he was invited to. Another effort, O’Keefe contact an employee at the Open Society Institute, a group funded by George Soros. Whatever scheme he was planning there fell apart after he forgot to hang up his phone and was recorded talking with others discussed a plan to infiltrate the organization. On another occasion, O’Keefe donned an Osama bin Laden mask and recorded himself crossing the Rio Grande River from Mexico into the United States. O’Keefe’s organization has also been linked to the efforts to discredit Planned Parenthood by setting up sting operations in which people attempted to unveil what they claimed was a common practice by the organization of selling the body parts of aborted fetuses for medical research.

As Greg Sargent notes, O’Keefe is just part of a wider industry on the right that gained popularity in recent years:

To be clear, there are many perfectly legitimate organizations on the right who do the work they claim to do. But there’s also a grift machine generating huge amounts of money for conservatives who know just how gullible their marks are — and know how important it is to keep them angry and ignorant. As I said, some conservatives have tried to expose this ongoing scam, but the problem is that it’s been woven too deeply into the conservative movement for too long. (Rick Perlstein offers a vivid history of “the strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers” using “tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place”).

The success of that scam is why conservatives don’t cast someone like James O’Keefe out. It’s why a serial fraudster such as John Lott, who has been caught creating a false identity and almost certainly falsifying data, is treated on the right as an honored policy expert. It’s because conservatives think their rank-and-file are too dumb to identify the con men in their midst, and barely seem to care whether they’re being lied to.

O’Keefe counts on rank-and-file conservatives not understanding how journalism works or what kinds of information can be trusted. And that, of course, is the foundation of much of the conservative media world: don’t believe anything you hear from anybody other than us. It depends on people having no critical faculties of their own but just outsourcing anything resembling thought to Rush and Sean and Tucker.

The scam reached its apogee with the campaign and election of Donald Trump, not only because he declares any information he doesn’t find amenable to be “fake news” but because he found tens of millions of conservatives perfectly happy to support a candidate who lies to them constantly. It isn’t just the size of his crowds or the spectacular accomplishments of his presidency that he lies about, it’s also the promises he makes about the future — that he’ll bring all the coal jobs back, that North Korea will do whatever he says, that a tax bill larding riches on corporations will actually improve the lot of the middle class, that there will be a great, big, beautiful wall on our southern border, and on and on.

It’s unlikely that this latest failed scheme of O’Keefe’s is going to dim his star on the right. As with Donald Trump, Breitbart, and the talk radio crowd, the true believers on the right see people like O’Keefe as crusaders taking on the “fake news” and what Sarah Palin, another example of the intellectual fraud that has been allowed to fester on the right, called the “lamestream media.” As a result, while the reasonable conservatives who have begun to see the light will see this as confirmation of what they concluded last year with the rise of Donald Trump, the vast majority of people on the right will either dismiss this exposure of yet another O’Keefe fraud or simply ignore in much the same way that they dismiss the daily outrages from Donald Trump. Until that base wakes up, what passes for movement conseratism as it exists today will continue to rot from the inside and the absurdity that is the Trumpidian Republican Party will continue to get worse.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Stormy Dragon says:

    This is probably the best O’Keefe story since that time he made the scam call to George Soros and then forgot to hang up and left a 10 minute voice mail of him and his staff going over the plan for the scam.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  2. Bruce Henry says:

    The video of the conversation in which Jaime realizes she is busted and wants to “just cancel, I guess” is freaking hilarious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  3. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Only in the Republican party, where failure is rewarded, could someone as incompetent as O’Keefe become rich and famous.
    If he were anymore incompetent he could be their nominee for President.
    The party of Reagan and HW Bush and Buckley…has become the party of Trump and Palin and O’Keefe.
    Muwhahahahahahahahahaha

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  4. gVOR08 says:

    O’Keefe is a third rate con man and rightly a figure of ridicule. But very few of the GOP base are going to see this story and believe it’s not WAPO fake news.

    O’Keefe did succeed in shutting down Acorn. They were blameless in what was alleged in O’Keefe’s heavily edited videos, but that didn’t save them from the right wing character assassination machine. I still see comments from Right Wingers that Acorn was registering fraudulent voters on a wholesale basis. He’ll continue his scams as long as he’s getting funded from somewhere. And all the base will see is his edited versions of his stories.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  5. barbintheboonies says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: What about Hellary and the infamous foundation. Bill getting paid a half mill for a 20 min speech. The swamp is full of both Repubs and Dems, but we cannot say anything bad about the other side.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 35

  6. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    What about Hellary and the infamous foundation.

    You mean the foundation that has done an immense amount of good around the world, has an extremely low overhead, and is very well rated? Yes, it’s been accused of a bunch of nonsense that hasn’t been backed up, or has been outright de-bunked.. What’s your point?

    Bill getting paid a half mill for a 20 min speech.

    If I was a former President, I would think that’s the going rate. In a world where Kardashian girls are billionaires because they have fat asses? WTF not? I still don’t get your point?
    Or what this has to do with O’Keefe and Trump and Palin…the shining lights of the Republican Party.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 1

  7. Moosebreath says:

    @gVOR08:

    “O’Keefe did succeed in shutting down Acorn. They were blameless in what was alleged in O’Keefe’s heavily edited videos, but that didn’t save them from the right wing character assassination machine. I still see comments from Right Wingers that Acorn was registering fraudulent voters on a wholesale basis. He’ll continue his scams as long as he’s getting funded from somewhere. And all the base will see is his edited versions of his stories.”

    Exactly like the Planned Parenthood videos which even multiple Republican State Attorneys General investigated and determined that they provided no basis to press criminal charges, but are still believed to be damning to Republican voters.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  8. JohnMcC says:

    @barbintheboonies: Way to go, Barb! You’re making Sean Hannity proud!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  9. CSK says:

    Just how stupid is O’Keefe? Did he really think a shabby little scam like this, laughable in its transparency, would work?

    Actually, it did–but only with those who believe that the only real legit sources of news are The Gateway Pundit, Infowars, and The Conservative Treehouse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Moosebreath: Thank you. I’d almost forgotten that Planned Parenthood nonsense. Where there’s smoke there must be fire; even if you can see the Republicans’ smoke generator.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. becca says:

    @barbintheboonies: I don’t believe you believe a word you spout. I think you are just agitating for the sake of argument. I suspect you are not who you portray yourself to be.

    IMHO, of course.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    “It’s because conservatives think their rank-and-file are too dumb to identify the con men in their midst, and barely seem to care whether they’re being lied to.”

    Alas, as Barb just showed us, the above is probably true.

    (Barb retorts that she’s not actually a conservative in 5…4…3…2…)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  13. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    but we cannot say anything bad about the other side.

    You can still say anything you want; this is still America, after all. What you can’t do is be accepted as credible when you spout nonsense–which is what seems to really bother you.

    When you actually get served or arrested for “saying anything bad about the other side,” call the ACLU. I hear they’re pretty good at that sort of litigation and trial process.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  14. grumpy realist says:

    @barbintheboonies: “Hellary”?

    That tells me all I need to know.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  15. Franklin says:

    @barbintheboonies: I know people who vote Republican who are good, respectable people. They vote based on policy preferences and do have some understanding that all known politicians, whether left or right or some other direction, are less than perfect.

    I assure you that they are embarrassed by people like O’Keefe, Trump, and by some of their fellow Republican voters, with you as a prime example.

    To be sure, I am embarrassed by the actions of many Democrats and their voters as well, but I can’t find anything half as heinous as the people actively trying to get that pedophile Moore into the Senate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  16. M. Bouffant says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Lemme fix that for you: “The party of Reagan and HW Bush and Buckley has always been has become the party of Trump and Palin and O’Keefe.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  17. Lynn says:

    @grumpy realist:

    “Hellary”?

    “That tells me all I need to know.”

    Killary is my personal favorite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  18. Bill says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    “The party of Reagan and HW Bush and Buckley has always been has become the party of Trump and Palin and O’Keefe.”

    Michelle Malkin (who was the first blogger I regularly read) lost me after WFB (I read Buckley at the National Review for about 25 years) wrote something not adhering to her and others hardline views on immigration and her reply ‘Buckley’s idiocy is another reason, as Heather Mac Donald argues, that East Coast Elites Should Shut Up About Immigration.’ Shut up, you’re an idiot. Isn’t that what we have in the WH now?

    Buckley was known to take contrarian views. He supported the Panama Canal treaties and the legalization of some drug use. The latter was a stance few were willing to take 35 years ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  19. de stijl says:

    @Lynn:

    It’s the reason to never try to denigrate your political foe with a “clever” name.

    Slick Willy is the same as T-Rump is the same as Obummer is the same a Bushitler is the same as Hellary. The names aren’t clever and you’ve revealed yourself as a rank partisan who is both unconvincing and unreliable.

    Just make your point / argument and use the politicians given name. If you use the “clever” name, you undermine your point and prevent any possibility of dialog.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  20. Lynn says:

    @de stijl: “Just make your point / argument and use the politicians given name. If you use the “clever” name, you undermine your point and prevent any possibility of dialog.”

    Also reveals that you operate on knee-jerk prejudices rather than rational thought.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  21. M. Bouffant says:

    @Bill: And this stance?

    In the August 24, 1957, issue, Buckley’s editorial “Why the South Must Prevail” spoke out explicitly in favor of temporary segregation in the South until “long term equality could be achieved.” It argued that “the central question that emerges… is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.” His answer was that temporary segregation in the South was a good idea now (in 1957) and the black population lacked the education, economic, or cultural development for racial equality to be possible, claiming the white South had “the right to impose superior mores for whatever period it takes to effect a genuine cultural equality between the races.”

    Note how he capitalizes “White”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. Lynn says:

    @M. Bouffant: “Note how he capitalizes “White”.”

    But not black.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. de stijl says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    William Buckley was a SJW who demanded a “safe space.” Just like a little, special snowflake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. Bill says:

    @M. Bouffant: @M. Bouffant: Buckley changed his mind from that very wrong view not too many years later when he began being a vocal opponent of George Wallace.

    https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/05/13/william-f-buckley-civil-rights-215129

    Buckley was also a long-time opponent of anti-semites. I didn’t know about what WFB wrote in 1957 till after his death. I do remember reading what he thought of anti-semitism from my days as a National Review Subscriber (For 30 years I read both NR and TNR and have read the scribblings of both Ann Coulter and Frank Rich and I have lived to tell about the last two)

    Time named Hitler man of the year, The New York Times treatment of the famine in the Ukraine in the 30’s, The New Republic and Stephen Glass, In my blogging days I probably took more than a few wrong stances.

    Many notables have reversed themselves but the name calling crowd are usually the last to do so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  25. Sam McGowan says:

    Actually, the Post was caught. The “fake accuser” was a diversion. https://www.projectveritas.com/2017/11/27/breaking-undercover-video-exposes-washington-posts-hidden-agenda/

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 15

  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Sam McGowan:

    Good effort, but no cigar. Run along back to the Treehouse for Morons now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  27. de stijl says:

    @Sam McGowan:

    Usually, when Mom and Dad were distracted while driving, you could, maybe, get away with “But, she started it!”

    Not this time.

    O’Keefe and Project Veritas were legit busted and you can’t BS your way out of that.

    Totally friggin’ busted.

    The “fake accuser” was a diversion.

    Good golly, have you no decency?

    Seriously, your dude got shamed and posterized. Posterized by the big, bad hated Washington Post, and they just spanked your boy who’s now whining like a lil punkB!!!!

    O’Keefe and Project Veritas are rightfully looked upon as not jut ineffectual, but as a joke. TASS and RT have more credibility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  28. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @M. Bouffant: Indeed! And I say this as a person who needed a long time to figure that out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. mike shupp says:

    @Lynn:

    “but not black.” No. I understand you think Buckley was making a snide distinction between Whites and Blacks. But in 1957, polite educated people used the term Negro when referring to Afro-Americans . Well meaning middle class whites used the phrase “Colored People” — consider the NAACP. “Black: was a derogatory term used by ill-educated people or racists. This changed in the mid to late 1960s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. mike shupp says:

    Doug Mataconis:

    Ho ho ho. Funny story. The woman approached the Post, fed them a phoney story, apparently with the notion that they would fall for it, and then be exposed as scum-sucking media degenerates eager to accept lies about noble and decent Alabama statesmen., likely to their financial and reputation costs,

    Why isn’t “Jaime T. Phillips” in court today being told what her bail amount will be and the likely date of her trial for fraud and perjury? I would think a few 5-10 year prison sentences would eventually begin to reduce some of this conservative hilarity,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  31. Mike Shupp:

    Why isn’t “Jaime T. Phillips” in court today being told what her bail amount will be and the likely date of her trial for fraud and perjury?

    I don’t think there’s a criminal case here.

    First of all, there’s no “perjury.” Yes, she lied but the crime of perjury is generally defined as lying under oath, usually before an official tribunal such as a court or a body of the state, local, or Federal Government. As President Clinton learned, one can also commit perjury if one lies under oath in a deposition in a court proceeding. Phillips wasn’t under oath and wasn’t “testifying” before a government tribunal or other proceeding such as a deposition.

    As for fraud, perhaps the Post might have a civil claim for fraud here but it seems pretty clear that they realized very early on that they were being played. This means the actual damages would be fairly low and the costs of a lawsuit wouldn’t be justified. Fraud can also be a criminal charge, but for similar reasons I’m not sure that the standards are met here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  32. de stijl says:

    @mike shupp:

    Why isn’t “Jaime T. Phillips” in court today being told what her bail amount will be and the likely date of her trial for fraud and perjury? I would think a few 5-10 year prison sentences would eventually begin to reduce some of this conservative hilarity,

    What she did is not a crime.

    It was despicable, but not a crime. She should be socially shamed and shunned, and O’Keefe should be openly mocked wherever he roams, but lying to a reporter is still not a crime. It’s not even close to being a crime. Basically, you can lie to anyone but the FBI or IRS and you’re gold.

    Mostly, O’Keefe should be mocked not because of his political affiliation, but just because he is so hilariously inept at *everything*. Why he continues to get billionaire Scrooge McDuck funding is baffling. He is really, really bad at his job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  33. mike shupp says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Live and learn I guess, but I’d be happier learning something else. The woman wished to harm the Post after all and there should be some punishment. If she had instead been caught in a comptroller’s office rifling the cash drawer, would the Post have let her go on the grounds that in the ends their vigilance had prevented her from doing real damage?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. grumpy realist says:

    @Bill: Time’s “Man of the Year” is not meant as approval. The individual picked is the person Time thinks has had the most effect on the world that year.

    I’m surprised you don’t know this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  35. Franklin says:

    @Sam McGowan: A link from Project Veritas itself? You have got to be kidding me. They’ve never been known to publicize a fact before, why would anybody try to provide them as a source of information?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  36. CSK says:

    OT, but significant: Matt Lauer has been fired by NBC for sexual misconduct.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. al-Ameda says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    What about Hellary and the infamous foundation.

    Who helped you with that “Hellary”?
    Family? Friends?
    Please, the preferred idiocy is “Killary” or “Killery”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  38. Joe says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Who helped you with that “Hellary”?
    Family? Friends?

    If family, disown them. If friends, get new ones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  39. pylon says:

    @Lynn:

    “Hitlery” is no longer in fashion because Nazis ain’t so bad any more. Ammirite?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  40. rachel says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    What about Hellary and the infamous foundation.

    It is exactly this kind of knee-jerk half-witticism tied up with ignorance and yet another tu quoque whine that explains why I respect neither your views nor your feelings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. george says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    ‘Always’ goes back not only to Eisenhower, Taft and Teddy Roosevelt, but all the way to Lincoln. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0