Tuesday, November 28, 2017

They've Only Just Begun

Jen Kirby of Vox explains that the foiled Project Veritas sting

began, according to the Post, when a woman reached out to Beth Reinhard, one of the reporters who broke the story of Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct. “Roy Moore in Alabama . . . I might know something but I need to keep myself safe,” the source emailed Reinhard. “How do we do this?”

The story details the reporters’ follow-up with the woman, who identified herself as Jaime Phillips and claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Moore as a teen in Alabama. She became pregnant, she claimed, and Moore drove her to get an abortion in Mississippi. The Post says she pressed the reporters over whether the story would hurt Moore’s chances in the senatorial race.

This story is not as good as it sounds- and the only thing worse would have been if it had succeeded.  Vox notes

Inconsistencies in Phillips’s explosive stories quickly raised suspicion. The place she gave as her employer had no record of her. An online search uncovered a GoFundMe account page registered to a Jaime Phillips who was moving to New York “to combat the lies and deceipt of the liberal MSM.” She claimed in an interview filmed by Washington Post videographersthat she was interviewing for a job at the Daily Caller, but the woman she named as her interviewer wasn’t actually employed at the conservative website.

At the end of that interview, Phillips said, “I think I probably just want to cancel and not go through with it at this point.”

The Post says the woman was later spotted entering the New York offices of Project Veritas.

Stingmaster James O'Keefe could have hired someone without an obvious right-wing GoFundMe page.  Phillips could have named any employer- even Vandelay Industries- instead of a far right conservative website as a potential employer. And someone resolute, unlikely to get cold feet and back out isn't the best choice for such an operation.

Moreover, Phillips later was seen going into a Project Veritas office. What, no private Snapchat or Twitter messages? No text messaging, email, or even- wait for it- phone calls?  She actually walked into the New York office of Project Veritas?

This was, on the face of it, an unusually amateurish operation, clearly not up to the standards of the wickedly devious O'Keefe.

It was so ham-handed that it's suspicious. Aside from that, it should be of some concern if Phillips were exposed only because of these unforced errors- which O'Keefe can now learn from.

There will be other sneak attacks as the right continues to seek to undermine the credibility of journalists and journalism. James O'Keefe, Donald Trump, and others want nothing less than to destroy the free press.   If they are not to make further headway, supporters of the First Amendment will have to turn the tables on the authoritarian forces amongst us.

CNN has begun this. But it is only a beginning and others must join. Time grows short.

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