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Press Clips: How the Post Stung a Stinger

The Oxford dictionary defines a “newsmaker” as a “newsworthy person or event.”

At "Newsmakers," however, especially on our TV show, that meaning sometimes is bastradized to refer to “news makers,” i.e., “those ink-or-pixel stained wretches who produce the news, by gathering, sorting out and communicating in plain English the affairs of, um, newsmakers."

That's why panel discussions on Newsmakers TV (new show coming this week!) often routinely move beyond already published and broadcast news reports, with local journalists encouraged to talk about their behind-the-scenes labors, in an effort to demystify and bring transparency to the ways and means by which professional reporters and editors do their work.

Tuesday’s Washington Post carries a story that offers an extraordinarily enlightening glimpse at such behind-the-scene matters. Although, it’s a bit far afield from our usual focus on Santa Barbara, the piece seemed worthy of bringing to the attention of our loyal readers for the bright light it sheds on the subject.

The story itself, which in its online version carries the headline, “A woman approached the Post with dramatic – and false – tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation” pretty much speaks for itself.

Boiled down: A woman named Jaime Phillips, working with the right-wing provocateur and propaganda outfit “Veritas,” sought out WashPost reporters in an attempt to plant a phony story about being impregnated at the age of 15 by Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, who’s been persuasively accused by a series of woman of inappropriately, immorally – and possibly illegally – groping, fondling and otherwise sexually harassing and abusing them when they were underage.

Beyond the print and web yarn itself, however, what is truly remarkable about the Post report is a 9:44 second video recording of staff writer Stephanie McCrummen calmly but firmly confronting the undercover operative, with impeccably reported evidence putting the lie to her story.

Check it out.

As with all but a few such journalism interviews, there’s no Perry Mason moment here – Phillips incriminates herself during the cringe worthy session. Throughout, McCrummen’s technique is superb, a case study of how to do it that likely will be taught in journalism schools for years to come.

At least as long as there still are journalism schools.

Update: While we're at it, check out Samantha Bee's quick turnaround, Comedy News parody of the Real News bust of the Fake News effort by Veritas.


Images: Washington Post logo; Post reporter Stephanie McCrummen interviews Veritas operative Jaime Phillips.

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