Over the course of the past week, Republican candidate Roy Moore’s already contentious campaign to win the Alabama senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Session went full garbage fire over allegations he molested children decades ago. Moore refused to back down, endorsing a Twitter-fueled conspiracy theory the Washington Post paid women to fabricate the allegations and promoting misinformation about whether he still has the endorsement of dozens of local pastors.
Now, someone has allegedly continued to push the Twitter garbage on Alabama voters with an anti-Semitic twist. Per WKRG, Creola pastor Al Moore says he received a robocall claiming to be a non-existent reporter named “Bernie Bernstein” from the Post offering money for “damaging remarks about Roy Moore. Here’s the text of the alleged call:
Hi, this is Bernie Bernstein, I’m a reporter for the Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5000 and $7000 dollars. We will not be fully investigating these claims however we will make a written report. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, thank you.
A staff source at the Post confirmed that, obviously, there is no Bernie Bernstein employed at the paper. It’s a real name, but seems to have been selected for sounding especially Jewish:
You’d have to be a real dummy to believe that a major metropolitan paper would be soliciting random women to accuse Moore of further, horrifying misconduct by waving stacks of money via random phone calls, but that’s not the point.
Regardless of the intent of the call, it further pushes Moore’s selected conspiracy theory from the fever depths of Twitter into the public imagination and promotes skepticism the whole controversy is just a series of dirty tricks. Second, it potentially muddies the waters around any women who step forward in the future by providing a flimsy excuse to attack their credibility.
It’s hard to imagine this tactic not backfiring without the assistance of viral, unsourced rumors spreading on social media, which seem to have helped Moore quickly rally Alabaman right-wingers who are already inclined to support his antagonistic approach. But while Alabama is one of the most conservative states in the country, making it especially fertile ground for this kind of thing, this mess may still be too much for voters to swallow. If it’s not, that’s an ominous look at our already very ominous future, whether or not Moore is ever seated.
Moore’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Gizmodo, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.