The scandal surrounding Senate candidate Roy Moore took a new turn Wednesday as accusations suggesting anti-Semitism arose following reports that robotic phone calls were being placed to Alabama voters falsely claiming to be reporter "Bernie Bernstein" from The Washington Post on the hunt for disparaging information about Moore.
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The robocalls to Alabama voters, as reported by WKRG news, left a voicemail with a New York accented man claiming to be seeking "damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5,000 and $7,000 dollars," and leaving a fake email address.
"We will not be fully investigating these claims however we will make a written report," said the voice message. "I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, thank you.”
The apparent attempt to disparage Washington Post reporters was also perceived as a dog whistle to anti-Semites, including by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
"This isn't just an ugly robocall slanderously misrepresenting the @washingtonpost. Its a #dogwhistle and we hear it loud and clear. #shameful," he posted to Twitter.
"It's so anti-Semitic," The Daily Beast's Sam Stein said on MSNBC's Morning Joe.
Washington Post editor-in-chief Marty Barron said in a statement that he was “shocked and appalled," rejecting the premises that the Post pays sources, and promises not to check sources too thoroughly. “The call’s description of our reporting methods bears no relationship to reality,” he said. “We are shocked and appalled that anyone would stoop to this level to discredit real journalism.” No staffer at the Post is named Bernie Bernstein or Al Bernstein.
Twitter users had a field day with the robocaller's false identity, noting the lack of creativity in choosing a distinctly Jewish name.
Moore is reeling from allegations that 38 years ago when he was 32, he dated teenagers and in two cases sexually assaulted them. Moore has adamantly denied the charges but has lost the support of much of the GOP leadership ahead of a special election next month.
After multiple allegations surfaced, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for Moore's exit from the Alabama senate race. John McCain and Vice President Pence have expressed concern over the allegations, and other Republican senators have called on Moore to step aside.
Moore, however, has vehemently denied the allegations and gives no indication he will drop out of the race.
With reporting by JTA