Someone in Alabama has sent out a fake robocall intended to smear The Washington Post‘s reporting on sexual misconduct allegations against Roy Moore by posing as a reporter named “Bernie Bernstein” who’s willing to pay thousands for false testimony against the GOP Senate candidate.
According to local news station WKRG, the call seeks middle-aged women willing to make “damaging remarks” akin to the poorly-cited (and debunked) conspiracy theory that the Post paid a woman $1000 to go public with her accusation. That theory was spread by a now-deleted troll account that assumed the identity of a dead Navy SEAL to make that claim and others popular on the right-wing blogosphere.
“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,” a voicemail of the robocall claimed. “We will not be fully investigating these claims however we will make a written report. I can be reached by email at [email protected], thank you.”
In a statement, Marty Baron, the Post‘s executive editor, denied the newspaper’s involvement in the false message.
“The Post has just learned that at least one person in Alabama has received a call from someone falsely claiming to be from The Washington Post,” Baron’s statement read. “The call’s description of our reporting methods bears no relationship to reality. We are shocked and appalled that anyone would stoop to this level to discredit real journalism.”
Immediately after the robocall’s existence was reported, Twitter users (many of them journalists) noted that the fake name given to the “reporter” seemed like an anti-Semitic dog whistle.
Adam Serwer, a senior editor at The Atlantic, tweeted that the reporter’s name might be used to push the idea that the Moore allegations are a “Jewish conspiracy,” another popular right-wing theory.
Looks like someone supporting Roy Moore wants to make the allegations against him sound like a Jewish conspiracy https://t.co/IFsivN6Jtu
— Adam Serwer 🍝 (@AdamSerwer) November 14, 2017
Others even poked fun at the clearly-fake name used to smear Moore’s accusers because, as Serwer wrote in a subsequent tweet, “someone in Alabama is paying money because they think anti-Semitic canards move votes.”
“‘Hello. It is The Jews. We have money. We would like to eat your Christian candidate with our Passover matzo. Please telephone us,'” a tweet by Toronto Star‘s Washington correspondent Daniel Dale read.
“This is ridiculous,” Tablet magazine’s Yair Rosenberg wrote. “We didn’t assign Bernie Bernstein to manufacture anti-Moore stories. He’s currently rigging the Brexit talks.”
Check out some of the best tweets bringing a moment of levity to this unsettling development in the Moore scandal below.
I'm surprised they didn't go with "Shlomo Jewgold" instead of the infinitely more subtle "Bernie Bernstein." https://t.co/a2drNUYm4F
— Jeff B. (@EsotericCD) November 14, 2017
I am here for your alternate names for "Bernie Bernstein" if they really wanted to make that dog whistle sing. Keep them coming.
— Ali Rogin (@AliABCNews) November 14, 2017
This is the day Bernie Bernstein became president
— Daniella Greenbaum (@DGreenbaum) November 14, 2017
Bernie Bernstein would have won
— David Klion 🔥 (@DavidKlion) November 14, 2017
bernie bernstein's reporting partner woody woodward
— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) November 14, 2017
I'll never forget the time Bernie Bernstein invited me into his office, poured me a double of Johnny Black and said, “Kid, you can’t just be a phone jockey to get ahead in this business. Also, I don’t exist.”
— Eliot Nelson (@eliotnelson) November 14, 2017
This isn’t easy for me but: There is a long Bernstein family tradition of going to Alabama to bamboozle gentiles and it’s time we talked about it
— Joe Bernstein (@Bernstein) November 14, 2017
Bernie Bernstein would like to remind all Alabamans that we had the 10 Commandments first
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) November 14, 2017
— Nick Riccardi (@NickRiccardi) November 14, 2017
As a lesbian, having a satisfying orgasm from sex with a man was a lot like a reporter from the Washington Post seeking damaging info on Roy Moore for cash, in that they both never happened. Bernie Bernstein.
— Marie Connor (@thistallawkgirl) November 14, 2017
We are all Bernie Bernstein
— Juliet Lapidos (@julietlapidos) November 14, 2017
you all laugh, but woody woodward and bernie bernstein will have the last laugh when they prove pizzagate is real
— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) November 14, 2017
Good day to you,
I am the wife of Prince Bernie Bernstein of Western Congo and I seek your good favor in assisting me to receive $5,000,000….
— Buffy's Blog (@BuffyBlogs) November 14, 2017
After a lot of research the true identity of Bernie Bernstein has been revealed. pic.twitter.com/kixkOQ6kqp
— Cameron Grant (@coolcam101) November 14, 2017
Bernie Bernstein unmasked.
Wait til Buttercup, Blossom and Bubbles find out. pic.twitter.com/YvT6BoIbmz
— Jason Markusoff (@markusoff) November 14, 2017
"Hello this is Bernie Bernstein, I love Keurigs and paying taxes" pic.twitter.com/mWGy4l3cNN
— Kathleen Lee (@kathleenelee) November 14, 2017