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THE ONLY thing missing was the soundtrack. We’d recommend “Yakety Sax,” the theme song of the old Benny Hill show. That would have fit the scene nicely with these clowns.

In what folks are calling an epic backfire, the shameful but also shameless folks at Project Veritas — the outfit run by James O’Keefe — apparently tried to set up the Washington Post and its reporters in some sort of sting operation that would have made Laurel and Hardy proud. Another fine mess they’ve gotten into . . . .

The story unfolded like this:

According to the Post’s reports, a woman approached its reporters with a hot story. She claimed that Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama, had impregnated her as a teen, and took her across state lines to get an abortion at the age of 15. The woman, named Jaime Phillips, spoke to reporters off-the-record (supposedly) but tried to guide the reporters into saying that the story could hurt the candidate, who has his own well-documented problems. Of course, the reporters said no such thing. They explained to the source that they had no idea what the fallout would be.

After the initial interviews with the accuser, and after doing a little background work and fact checking, reporters for the paper got a little suspicious. Then a lot suspicious. It didn’t help Ms. Phillips’ cause when a researcher for the paper found this on a GoFundMe page, posted by the same Ms. Phillips in May:

“I’m moving to New York! I’ve accepted a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt of the liberal MSM. I’ll be using my skills as a researcher and fact-checker to help our movement. . . .”

Seems like she got a job. But her skills might be questioned.

After reporters for the Post set up another meeting with Ms. Phillips, and brought their own videographers to the party, she must’ve realized the jig was up. And cut the last interview short. Reporters last saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, which has targeted not only news media but left-leaning groups over the years; James O’Keefe, sole prop.

Mr. O’Keefe has set up videotaped stings over the years, some more successful than others. His videos led to ACORN being shut down (employees appeared to advise how to break the law) and embarrassed other leftish types in various news cycles. But that was years ago. Nowadays, not even Fox News defends him. He won’t defend himself, either, telling the press who tracked him down after the botched sting that he wasn’t doing interviews.

Other conservative critics of the mainstream media have washed their hands of him, too.

James O’Keefe “has committed important acts of journalism,” Ben Shapiro told The Atlantic. “This wasn’t one. It was misbegotten from the outset. Attempting to indirectly discredit alleged sexual-abuse victims by planting a fake story with a news outlet is bad stuff.”

And that’s what it all boils down to.

THIS WEEK a columnist for the National Review criticized James O’Keefe for being ineffective. The papers quoted another conservative member of the commentariat complaining that O’Keefe was unsophisticated. But would it matter if James O’Keefe and his people were effective and sophisticated in this matter?

They were still trying to discredit Judge Moore’s accusers in Alabama, albeit indirectly, by sending a fake victim to the press. The lesson was supposed to be: See? See? The press believes anybody who accuses a Republican! They don’t fact check! So all those women accusing Roy Moore of stalking young teenaged girls back in the day can’t be believed!

It was an awful, malicious ploy to discredit several women who say they were abused as young teens.

But the whole thing blew up in Mr. O’Keefe’s face.

Our considered editorial opinion: It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fella.

Print Headline: Keystone sleuths

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