O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has spent most of the last decade releasing heavily edited and misleading videos aimed at revealing the insidious liberal bias of various governmental and non-governmental agencies and media organizations. But on Monday, one of O’Keefe’s “stings” blew up spectacularly. The Washington Post, which Project Veritas was trying to trap into publishing a false accusation against Roy Moore, turned the tables and exposed a hilariously inept attempt at catfishing:
In a series of interviews over two weeks, [Jaime Phillips] shared a dramatic story about an alleged sexual relationship with Moore in 1992 that led to an abortion when she was 15. During the interviews, she repeatedly pressed Post reporters to give their opinions on the effects that her claims could have on Moore’s candidacy if she went public.
The Post did not publish an article based on her unsubstantiated account. When Post reporters confronted her with inconsistencies in her story and an Internet posting that raised doubts about her motivations, she insisted that she was not working with any organization that targets journalists.
Phillips, the Veritas mole, left a long paper trail, including a GoFundMe page asking for help funding her move to New York for “a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt [sic] of the liberal MSM.” Asked about the discrepancy, she said, “Um, yeah, I was looking to take a job last summer in New York, but it fell through. Yeah, it was going to be with the Daily Caller, but it ended up falling through, so I wasn’t able to do it.” When the Post asked who she interviewed with at the Daily Caller, she told them “Kathy Johnson”—a phone call to the Daily Caller revealed that no one named Kathy Johnson worked there. She gave the Post a cellphone number with an Alabama area code despite having claimed that she only lived in the state during the summer.
There is something immensely satisfying in watching this dumb stunt blow up so spectacularly. But it also reveals the nature of O’Keefe’s project and, to a larger extent, that of much of conservative media. Project Veritas created a fake victim of sexual abuse to muddy the waters so that Roy Moore, who has been credibly accused of sexual harassment and abuse of teenagers, could be elected. There is no larger journalistic or political principle at work—the whole point is to provide ammunition for the false belief that mainstream news organizations invent sources to discredit conservative voices and leaders. The whole point, in other words, is to stoke and confirm the resentment that fuels much of conservative media and politics.