Post turns tables on O’Keefe

James O’Keefe, known for his no-holds-barred undercover video stings, had the tables turned on him by the Washington Post.

The Post lays out a great yarn about a woman who approached the newspaper saying she had a sexual relationship as a teenager with Roy Moore, the Republican US Senate candidate in Alabama. The woman claimed her relationship with Moore began in 1992 and led to an abortion when she was 15.

The woman approached the Post following its story earlier this month on several women who said they had sexual encounters with Moore when they were 14, 16, and 18 and he was in his 30s. Moore denied the allegations, calling them an attack on his campaign by the newspaper and the Democratic Party, but they nevertheless have become the central focus of his race for the Senate against Democrat Doug Jones.

Into this maelstrom stepped Jamie T. Phillips, who approached the Post with her story about her sexual relationship with Moore. But as Post reporters began to dig into Phillips’s background, they discovered many elements of her story didn’t add up. She didn’t work where she said she worked. She had also launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a move to New York. “I’ve accepted a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt (sic) of the liberal MSM,” or mainstream media, she said in her GoFundMe post.

The clincher came when the Post spotted Phillips heading into the New York offices of Project Veritas, which targets the mainstream media and left-leaning groups with undercover stings using false cover stories and covert video recordings. O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas, is perhaps best known for his undercover videos of employees at ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The videos caused an uproar and drove ACORN into bankruptcy, but subsequent investigations showed the videos were heavily edited and slanted in their presentation.

The Post story comes with embedded videos of an interview with Phillips and attempted interviews with O’Keefe outside the offices of Project Veritas. The videos are fascinating to watch, particularly the ones of O’Keefe as he bobs and weaves around questions from a Post reporter. O’Keefe even tries to suggest, incorrectly, that the Post is taking a page from Project Veritas’s interview approach.

“I think it’s really cute that you guys are borrowing our techniques,” he said.

O’Keefe, an adherent to the philosophy that the best defense is a good offense, quickly rolled out a video entitled “American Pravda,” which shows two Washington Post employees talking about the paper’s coverage of President Trump. One of them grumbles about the bias against Trump by the newspaper’s editorial page; the other says Trump coverage accounts for a lot of the paper’s circulation. Hardly earth-shattering stuff, compared to the dirty tricks “journalism” practiced by Project Veritas.

Marty Baron, the Post’s executive editor, defended the paper’s decision to out Phillips, who had talked to the newspaper off the record. “We always honor ‘off-the-record’ agreements when they’re entered into in good faith,” Baron said. “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, and we can’t honor an ‘off-the-record’ agreement that was solicited in maliciously bad faith.”

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law legislation criminalizing handicapped parking fraud. (Lowell Sun)

In light of fears the Trump administration would eliminate funding for home heating assistance, Massachusetts has received money for the program after Congress passed its continuing budget resolution. (Wicked Local)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The MBTA has recommended a developer to build 600 housing units as part of a mixed-use project in the redevelopment of the Quincy Center Red Line station. (Patriot Ledger)

The Boston City Council could take up a proposal to ban plastic shopping bags in the city as soon as its Wednesday meeting this week. (Boston Globe)

The outgoing members of the Framingham School Committee are hurling accusations at one another in profanity-laced emails and filing complaints with law enforcement agencies claiming illegal and inappropriate conduct during the recent election to vote in a new school committee under the new city charter. (MetroWest Daily News)

Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini proposes using a portion of the city’s cash surplus to lower a tax rate increase. (Eagle-Tribune) Officials in Worcester are following the same script. (Telegram & Gazette)

After several years of losing money, Falmouth officials will no longer allow all-day free parking at the town’s meters. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Chaos was the word of the day at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where two people claimed yesterday to be the agency’s acting director and a federal court may have to sort things out. (Boston Globe)

President Trump unloads a slur against Native Americans — at a ceremony honoring Native Americans heroes from World War II. (Associated Press)

Just in time for Giving Tuesday: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the inspiration for Trump’s comment, has seized on the president’s attention to fuel her fundraising efforts. (Boston Herald)

The New Republic’s Jeet Heer points out all the recent presidents who have made “dog-whistle appeals to anti-black racism,” from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton, but says “it all pales next to Trump, whose constant appeals to racism call to mind segregationist leaders like George Wallace more than earlier modern presidents.”

ELECTIONS

Gov. Charlie Baker, who polls as America’s most popular governor, is poised to run strong in a reelection bid next year, but Donald Trump, who is exceedingly unpopular in Massachusetts, looms as a potential drag on his prospects. (Boston Globe)

Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim says he’ll challenge longtime Secretary of State William Galvin in next fall’s Democratic primary. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Boston is adding new housing at a fast rate — but most of the city’s suburbs are not and are adding to upward pressure on housing costs, according to an annual housing report card. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

The  Brockton Enterprise reported that Stonehill College said a school worker injured his leg in a “workplace incident” last month but was actually shot by a coworker who brought a gun to work. Neither officials nor Easton police informed students or faculty of the actual cause.

Brockton school officials are seeking other districts and students to join its planned suit against the state as plaintiffs in an action to overhaul education funding. The suit is essentially a follow-up to the original legal fight 25 years ago that resulted in education reform. (The Enterprise)

Boston school superintendent Tommy Chang is taking heat for having held back from the School Committee news of a federal Internal Revenue Service audit of improper use of school activity funds for under-the-table payment of employee stipends. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Boston Herald health reporter Lindsay Kalter offers the second installment in a series of pieces on her recent hospitalization for depression.

Alex Azar, President Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, is under fire for his actions as CEO at the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, including raising prices on insulin and other drugs. (New York Times)

A report on alcohol consumption in the country  from a New York-based financial news service has determined Cape Cod is the “drunkest region” in Massachusetts, with a higher rate binge and heavy drinking than anywhere else in the state. (Cape Cod Times)

Two health care providers, Reliant Medical Group and Optum, agree to join forces. (Telegram & Gazette)

TRANSPORTATION

MBTA officials say new trains, new maintenance facilities, and a new maintenance strategy promise to dramatically improve service on the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines. (CommonWealth)

The T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board greenlights shutdowns of chunks of the Green Line to install new track. (CommonWealth)

T notes: Is the privatization of three bus maintenance garages moving forward despite political opposition? T hires Boston tech startup. Debris from Longfellow Bridge work causes power outage on the Red Line. (CommonWealth)

A Berkshire Eagle editorial hails a private sector initiative to provide transportation services when the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority is shut down.

Some advocates worry that the MBTA’s plan to move to a cashless fare system will not be fair to low-income residents without smartphones or credit cards. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A Salem News editorial calls for keeping the pressure on utilities to repair gas leaks.

Boston wants to be carbon neutral by 2050, and now needs to figure out how to do it. (WBUR)

The Department of Transportation will install free charging stations at service plazas along the Mass Pike to promote the use of electric vehicles for longer trips. (MetroWest Daily News)

MEDIA

The Berkshire Eagle is asking a judge to unseal documents related to the Berkshire Museum’s planned sale of 40 of its most valued artworks. (Berkshire Eagle)

Legal experts say one-time White House aide Anthony Scaramucci has little ground to stand on in his battle against the Tufts Daily. (Boston Herald) Both the Herald and Globe weigh in with editorials that rip Scaramucci. The Herald finds laughable the sudden acquisition of thin skin in the face of tough criticism by “a man who called former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus a ‘f..’ing paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac’ and indicated any number of White House colleagues could engage in an anatomically difficult sexual act.”