As allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct against teenage girls continue to hit Republican Alabama United States Senate candidate Roy Moore, the case took a bizarre twist on Tuesday when voters in that state received a strange automated “robocall” phone message from someone posing as a Washington Post reporter supposedly named “Bernie Bernstein,” less than a month ahead of the special Senate election there.
As a result, Twitter users became fascinated with the fictional Bernstein, causing the name “Bernie Bernstein” to shoot as high as the No. 2 trending phrase on Twitter in the United States by about 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, November 14, according to the Twitter-tracking Trending Topics site. In fact, the site listed “Bernie Bernstein” as the fourth-highest Twitter trend in the world.
On December 12 Moore and Democrat Doug Jones face voters for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, who is now U.S. attorney general. But Moore’s campaign has been rocked by the multiple allegations, originating in a Washington Post story reporting that four women have accused Moore, now 70-years-old, of sexual assaults or “dating” them when they were teenagers and he was a local prosecutor in his 30s.
Moore has slammed the women’s stories as “fake news” and “vicious lies,” and right-wing websites have spread a conspiracy theory claiming that the women — including a fifth who came forward on Monday — were somehow paid to make the allegations against Moore as part of a wide-ranging conspiracy against him.
But on Tuesday, an unknown person or organization placed robocalls attempting to trick Alabama voters into believing that Post reporter Bernie Bernstein — a character who is, in reality, a complete fabrication — was offering thousands of dollars in cash for more women to come forward and make “damaging remarks” about Moore, according to a report by WKRG TV News in Mobile, Alabama.
Listen to a recording of the strange robocall in the following video posted by WKRG on the station’s Facebook page.
“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 5,000 and 7,000 dollars,” the voice on the robocall says.
“We will not be fully investigating these claims however we will make a written report. I can be reached by email at email@example.com, thank you.”
Twitter users pounced on the “Bernie Bernstein” call, both ridiculing it and branding the call anti-Semitic for its use of the Jewish-sounding “Bernie Bernstein” name for the phony Post reporter the call.
Putin-level propaganda in Alabama:
A robocall claiming to be from the Washington Post is calling Alabama households looking for dirt on Roy Moore. The robocalls use the Jewish-sounding fake name “Bernie Bernstein.”
Using anti-Semitism to protect a sex abuser. Roy Moore.
— Donald J Orwell (@DonaldJOrwell) November 14, 2017
lol how did they settle on Bernie Bernstein
did someone say Jewy Jewstein was too much
— Danielle Tcholakian (@danielleiat) November 14, 2017
“Bernie Bernstein,” eh? Too on the nose? Does it go, “Oy vey! This is Jewish reporter Bernie Bernstein from the Jewish fake media and I’m all shpilkes over Roy Moore! Can you give me dirt on him and his schmeckle? I’ll pay, because I control all the money!” https://t.co/NhbUFX0DGj
— Eric Schmeltzer (@JustSchmeltzer) November 14, 2017
Bernie Bernstein just won the coveted Jewlitzer Prize
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) November 14, 2017
I always thought @washingtonpost made a mistake by giving Bernie Bernstein the Alabama desk instead of Shlomo Meshuga, who earned it
— Sign Popehat’s Yearbook (@Popehat) November 14, 2017
Washington Post Editor-in-Chief Marty Baron issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon, saying that the Post was “shocked and appalled” by the fake robocall.
“The Post has just learned that at least one person in Alabama has received a voicemail from someone falsely claiming to be from The Washington Post,” Baron said in the statement.
“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.”
On Friday, the conservative site Gateway Pundit — a site termed “disreputable” by the fact-checking outlet Snopes.com — ran an article claiming falsely that a Post reporter had offered “thousands” of dollars “to accuse Judge Roy Moore of inappropriate sexual advances! Of course this is HUGE news if true,” the site wrote.
But the story was not true, as Snopes quickly exposed.
Bernie Bernstein. Wow. Well, at least they’re not anti-Semitic.
— Zenk Moltron (@AggieJack4) November 15, 2017
Bernie Bernstein fact:
Bernie Bernstein came to the United States aboard the Boaty McBoatface in 1973.
— Mr. Bagels (@fartbagels) November 15, 2017
Sadly, this is Alabama. So, no matter how patently ridiculous & blatantly anti-Semitic the Bernie Bernstein robocall is…watch. A lot of the ‘Bama Trumpers will believe he’s real. Roy Moore knows his constituents well. https://t.co/WWfoT9eD8S
— Pièce de Résistance (@AynAyahSteenkur) November 15, 2017
Retweeted Chad Ghostal (@cmichaelmajor):
— CBANewton (@bbuckley58) November 15, 2017
The origin of the Bernie Bernstein robocall remained unclear as of early Tuesday evening.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]