The Shocking Way This Woman Tried to Fool The Washington Post

A woman who gave her name as Jaime Phillips attempted to share a false story with The Washington Post, the paper reported Nov. 27. Working with “watchdog” Project Veritas, the woman brought Post reporters a story about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. He currently stands accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. It took reporters hardly any time to poke holes in her story.

She made some dangerous claims against Moore

roy moore in a cowboy hat and leather vest in front of an American flag

Roy Moore stands accused of sexual misconduct. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Philips claimed Moore impregnated her in 1992, during a “secret relationship” that led to her getting an abortion. She explained that Moore subsequently drove her to Mississippi for the procedure. “I knew it wasn’t right, but I didn’t care,” she said. The reporter explained to Phillips that the paper would fact-check her claims, at which Phillips balked. When the reporter asked for documents to corroborate her story, Phillips did not provide any.

Next: When fact-checking got underway, The Post found some interesting material.

When pushed, her story did not hold water

a screenshot of jaime phillips meeting with a washington post reporter

Jaime Phillips meets with a Washington Post reporter. | screenshot from Washington Post video

Phillips told The Post she lived in Alabama only for a summer as a teenager. Oddly, the cellphone number she provided contained an Alabama area code. Post reporters called NFM Lending — where she supposedly worked — but the company said no Jaime Phillips worked there.

A Post researcher also found a document that sent off alarm bells: a GoFundMe page for a fundraising campaign by someone with the same name. Philips’ daughter’s name matched that of one donor. “I’m moving to New York!” the May 29 appeal said. “I’ve accepted a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt [sic] of the liberal MSM. I’ll be using my skills as a researcher and fact-checker to help our movement. I was laid off from my mortgage job a few months ago and came across the opportunity to change my career path.”

Next: When asked about it, Phillips told a blatant lie.

The reporter caught Phillips digging her own hole

GoFundMe screenshot of Jaime Phillips page

A screenshot from the GoFundMe page Phillips created. | screenshot via GoFundMe

As Time explains, The Post sent videographers to accompany reporter Stephanie McCrummen as she confronted Phillips with a printout of the GoFundMe page.

“We have a process of [doing background checks] so I wanted to ask you about one thing,” McCrummen says in the video recording, pulling out a copy of the GoFundMe page. Phillips said she intended to move to take a job with The Daily Caller, but “it ended up falling through.” She also told The Post she interviewed with a woman named Kathy Johnson.

Paul Conner, executive editor of the Daily Caller, said that no one with that name works for the publication and that he has no record of having interviewed Phillips. Other top editors at the Daily Caller and the affiliated Daily Caller News Foundation also said they never heard of her.

Next: It did not take Post reporters long to find out who Phillips really worked for.

Reporters saw her walk into Project Veritas headquarters

james o'keefe speaking to reporters in a dark suit

Conservative undercover journalist James O’Keefe runs Project Veritas. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Post reporters caught Phillips walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media. The organization, founded by James O’Keefe, sets up undercover “stings” that involve using false stories and covert video recordings meant to expose “media bias.” As Slate points out, O’Keefe has led a number of these stings over the years, and recently advertised for a new employee.

A posting for the “journalist” job asked for applicants “to adopt an alias persona, gain access to an identified person of interest and persuade that person to reveal information.” It also listed tasks including “learning a script,” “preparing a background story to support your role,” “gaining an appointment or access to the target of the investigation,” and “operating concealed recording equipment.”

Next: The Post made a tough decision after seeing Phillips at Veritas HQ.

‘Off the record’ only applies to honest sources

martin baron in a suit and tie in front of a blue background

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said the protections only apply when sources operate ‘in good faith.’ | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“We always honor ‘off-the-record’ agreements when they’re entered into in good faith,” said Martin Baron, The Post’s executive editor. “But this so-called off-the-record conversation was the essence of a scheme to deceive and embarrass us. 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.”

The Post decided then to sent videographers to catch Phillips in her lie, as well as to Project Veritas headquarters to catch O’Keefe. The undercover journalist refused to comment, but he has targeted the news organization before.

Next: O’Keefe has history with The Post.

Does this come as the latest in an ongoing beef?

james o'keefe gestures in a suit in front of an american flag

James O’Keefe has attacked The Washington Post before. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Salon points out that O’Keefe runs an ongoing video series “exposing” The Post’s reporting. He also says he used hidden cameras to reveal the paper’s “hidden agenda” against Trump. In an op-ed, Washington Post writer Callum Borchers described O’Keefe’s failed scam as an attempt to frame liberal media outlets as perpetrators of fake news. Instead, it verified the rigorous fact-checking and reporting outlets like The Post employ.

Next: The Post has come under fire for its Moore story before.

Other conspiracy theorists tried to run similar scams

a tweet claiming a roy moore source was paid off

A tweet claiming The Post paid off a source. | Doug Lewis via Twitter

Gizmodo reports that Gateway Pundit said a Post reporter tried to pay off a Moore accuser. The Twitter user next claimed he contacted an Alabama district attorney, the FBI, and the Secret Service about it. He did not, however, present any proof. The FBI neither confirmed nor denied the existence of an investigation.

A Washington Post spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the tweet holds no basis in fact. “We have an explicit policy that prohibits paying sources,” she said. After Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel and Task and Purpose editor Adam Weinstein challenged inconsistencies in the account’s military backstory, the tweeter cleared out his account.

Next: The Post suspicion goes right to the top.

‘Fake news’ paranoia keeps spreading

a screenshot of a Kayla Moore facebook post

Kayla Moore’s Facebook post alludes to shady dealings. | Moore via Facebook

The candidate threatened a lawsuit against the Post, after the theory came out. His wife, Kayla Moore, also alluded to the conspiracy in a Facebook post. It read, in part, “We are gathering evidence of money being paid to people who would come forward. Which is part of why we are filing suit!” Moore’s official Senate page shared links to conservative sites promoting similar material, and he mentioned it in an interview with Sean Hannity.

The cries of “fake news” come as little surprise from characters like O’Keefe and Twitter trolls like Doug Lewis. They have real impact when Moore and President Donald Trump take up the mantel. If anything, this failed “sting” proves one thing. Good,diligent journalism will uncover the truth, every time.

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