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Washington Post Says It Was The Target Of A Sting

Nov 28, 2017
Originally published on November 28, 2017 4:00 pm

The Washington Post says a woman came to them with a dramatic story about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore impregnating her as a teenager. But the paper says the story is false, and that the woman appears to be working with an organization that targets mainstream news outlets.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young learns more from NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik).

Interview Highlights

On Jamie Phillips, the woman who approached The Washington Post

“She gave several interviews over a period of two weeks, she said that she had in the early 1990s had a physical relationship with Roy Moore, and that he had impregnated her and that had led to an abortion when she was just 15 years old. It’s of course not an accident that this comes up after a series of explosive reports in the Post about women who claim that when they were teenagers he had pursued and in some cases actually had physical involvements with them.”

On what reporters uncovered about Phillips

“Jamie Phillips claimed to have spent only one summer in Alabama. But her, I believe it was her cellphone, had an Alabama area code. When she originally reached out to [the Post reporters] and said, in through this kind of secure email account to try to tell them about what she wanted to allege, she had ‘Roll Tide’ in her email address — of course Roll Tide, the University of Alabama’s rallying cry for its sports teams, the Crimson Tide, not likely somebody who just fleetingly spent a little bit of time in Alabama would embrace [that phrase]. And there were a series of other things as well that came up that just simply triggered to them a distrust and an unease in the account they were being offered.”

On James O’Keefe and Project Veritas’ previous attempts to discredit journalists, media outlets and other groups

“James O’Keefe in some ways has had some successes. What he tends to do is go either have himself, or more recently have others, go undercover with hidden cameras to try to goad people into saying things that are damaging, what he claims is ‘reveal their true selves.’ In reality, it just seems as though he’s trying to get them to say anything possibly incriminating. He really was able to bring down the community organizing group ACORN as a result of this, an undercover sting against two top NPR fundraisers in 2011 led to the ouster of the network CEO and of that top fundraiser. I’ve gotta say the videos in both the ACORN event and against NPR were just deeply and profoundly, deceptively edited, and later on, the full videos were shown to reveal very different natures of the exchanges. I think it was very damaging to the institutions involved that, not only did these things get occurred against them, but that it was done on a deeply disingenuous basis.

“One other highlight in 2011, he tried to lure a CNN reporter onto a boat riddled with sex toys as a way of degrading her and trying to discredit her professionally, even as she was pursuing a rather thoughtful exploration of young conservative media activists.”

On the botched sting offering a window into how mainstream media works

“I think that, first off, it does prove the soundness of the Post’s reporting, that it’s not simply gonna embrace an allegation because it dovetails with other major scoops that it’s already been able to present to the public. In this instance, you have the promise of confidentiality given to a source who fears, in her case, what she claimed was recrimination, didn’t want to be public, and yet it was a false … seemingly no substance to the allegations, and also one offered in an attempt to discredit the news organization. I think that Marty Baron, the editor of The Washington Post, and his colleagues there have every right to expose who’s doing that. These are reciprocal arrangements. You’re offering information in good faith, you’re offering protection in good faith. In this case, the information wasn’t real, it intended to damage the Post. Credit to them [for] exposing how this trafficking in false information worked.”

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