An undercover operative whose work for a conservative activist group was exposed this week spent months trying to infiltrate the Washington Post and other mainstream news outlets, the newspaper reported Thursday.
From July until this week, when she was exposed trying to convince the Post to publish a fabricated sexual misconduct allegation against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R), Jaime Phillips joined some two dozen journalism and left-leaning networking groups.
This effort was apparently undertaken on behalf of James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, an organization with a track record of using secret, deceptively edited videos to try to discredit liberal targets.
Using three pseudonyms and several different telephone numbers, Phillips tried to get close to individual journalists, presenting herself alternately as the owner of a start-up looking to recruit writers, a graduate student and a contractor new to Washington, D.C., according to the Post. She even showed up at events for departing Post staffers, and sent condolences to a Post employee experiencing a family tragedy.
Asked about Phillips’ undertaking, O’Keefe told the newspaper that he refused to give up the identity of his “sources.” He acknowledged in a fundraising email this week that an operative “embedded” with the newspaper “had their cover blown” and Phillips was seen walking into Project Veritas’ New York office on Monday.
The newspaper has since taken a closer look at her social media presence, which took an abrupt turn this summer from pro-Trump posts to ones criticizing the candidate, and heard from people like a top Democratic operative who said Phillips rented an apartment in his D.C. home.
Despite the exposure of her real identity, Project Veritas is framing the Post project as a successful gambit, highlighting secretly recorded comments from one of the newspaper’s national security reporters saying definitive proof that President Trump colluded with Russia has not yet emerged. Media observers have countered that the project actually exposed the rigor of the Post’s reporting and fact-checking processes, and drew attention to Project Veritas’ sloppy, underhanded practices.