We are Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites of The Washington Post, and we broke the story of sexual misconduct allegations against Roy Moore, who ran and lost a bid for the U.S. Senate seat for Alabama.

Stephanie and Beth both star in the first in our video series “How to be a journalist,” where they talk about how they broke the story that multiple women accused Roy Moore of pursuing, dating or sexually assaulting them when they were teenagers.

Stephanie is a national enterprise reporter for The Washington Post. Before that she was our East Africa bureau chief, and counts Egypt, Iraq and Mexico as just some of the places she’s reported from. She hails from Birmingham, Alabama.

Beth Reinhard is a reporter on our investigative team. She’s previously worked at The Wall Street Journal, National Journal, The Miami Herald and The Palm Beach Post.

Alice Crites is our research editor for our national/politics team and has been with us since 1990. She previously worked at the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress.


EDIT: And we're done! Thanks to the mods for this great opportunity, and to you all for the great, substantive questions, and for reading our work. This was fun!

EDIT 2: Gene, the u/washingtonpost user here. We're seeing a lot of repeated questions that we already answered, so for your convenience we'll surface several of them up here:

Q: If a person has been sexually assaulted by a public figure, what is the best way to approach the media? What kind of information should they bring forward?

Email us, call us. Meet with us in person. Tell us what happened, show us any evidence, and point us to other people who can corroborate the accounts.

Q: When was the first allegation brought to your attention?


Q: What about Beverly Nelson and the yearbook?

We reached out to Gloria repeatedly to try to connect with Beverly but she did not respond. Family members also declined to talk to us. So we did not report that we had confirmed her story.

Q: How much, if any, financial compensation does the publication give to people to incentivize them to come forward?

This question came up after the AMA was done, but unequivocally the answer is none. It did not happen in this case nor does it happen with any of our stories. The Society of Professional Journalists advises against what is called "checkbook journalism," and it is also strictly against Washington Post policy.

Q: What about net neutrality?

We are hosting another AMA on r/technology this Monday, Dec. 18 at noon ET/9 a.m. PST. It will be with reporter Brian Fung (proof), who has been covering the issue for years, longer than he can remember. Net neutrality and the FCC is covered by the business/technology section, thus Brian is our reporter on the beat.

Thanks for reading!

Comments: 5923 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

wjbc7279 karma

I know you can't disclose what you are working on next, but would it be fair to say that you have been flooded with tips about other sexual predators that will keep you busy for a long time? Would it be fair to characterize what we have seen so far as just the beginning?

washingtonpost7894 karma

Yes - Beth

GXKLLA3927 karma

Can you PLEASE do some sleuthing on Ajit Pai? Asking for a friend.

washingtonpost1575 karma

EDIT: AMA on net neutrality with u/b_fung on r/technology this MONDAY at 12 pm ET, 9 a.m. PST.

We've just confirmed it. Set your reminders. Proof

This is Gene, the social media editor who runs this reddit account. I can tell you that I'm working to land an AMA elsewhere with our net neutrality reporter Brian Fung, who's been covering the issue for longer than he can remember. Stay tuned!

MrMento488 karma

Consider me tuned.

washingtonpost668 karma

Working on a schedule literally as we type. Will let you know in this thread and on our profile.

MasterGrok3269 karma

If a person has been sexually assaulted by a public figure, what is the best way to approach the media? What kind of information should they bring forward?

washingtonpost4312 karma

Email us, call us. Meet with us in person. Tell us what happened, show us any evidence, and point us to other people who can corroborate the accounts. [email protected] - Beth

thereluctantpoet582 karma

Not sure if this will get any visibility or a response, but I wanted to suggest that you provide (or obtain if you don't have one) a PGP key and share the public key here so that people concerned with privacy can share these details in a secure, encrypted manner.

This AMA is getting tens of thousands of views (possibly more) and it might be beneficial in encouraging those more hesitant to come forward with important information about the abuse of women, men and power by those in government and beyond.

I have no need to email (thank goodness) but it may be seen by the right person.

MattBaster2844 karma

Were there any allegations brought to your attention that were not reported due to lack of credibility?

washingtonpost4996 karma

Yes we chased all sorts of leads, tips, allegations and crazy rumors. We only reported what we were able to substantiate. Beth

Ice_Burn2294 karma

Did Moore ever attempt to contact you directly and, if so, what did he say?

washingtonpost2202 karma

No -Beth

washingtonpost982 karma

This is Stephanie: No, Roy Moore never once personally attempted to contact us.

tlk131661 karma

The story said that you approached the accusers, not the other way around, but how did you know to investigate this in the first place?

washingtonpost3688 karma

This is Stephanie: while I was reporting another story in the Gadsden area, I heard that Roy Moore liked teenage girls, and as we began talking to more people, specific names began to emerge. It turned out that quite a lot of people in the Gadsden area had heard these stories about Moore over the years, and some had direct knowledge of the situation.

notarealnameisit1309 karma

Some people, including many prominent politicians, have said that these are "40 year old allegations" and that diminishes their importance and that they were only brought up to prevent him from getting the seat in the Senate. How do you respond to that? Do you believe that these stories should break in a way/time to have maximum impact?

Edit: I do believe the allegations and think that they are absolutely important to know. I also understand why the story is being given attention now-especially with the WaPo's answer below-and think it's a great thing it received national attention.

washingtonpost1257 karma

This is Stephanie: naturally, when there is a race for U.S. Senate, especially a high profile one, reporters are going to begin doing all sorts of stories to try to illuminate the candidates. So it makes sense that reporters would be in the Gadsden area at this time, asking questions. Other than that, our only focus was reporting the story thoroughly and publishing if and when it was solid.

washingtonpost1103 karma

I have worked on many stories regarding allegations against powerful men that were decades old including Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Clinton and there are many people who believe those and some who do not. -Alice

TheGrimbarian1235 karma

How did you prepare the victims in the case for the obvious attacks from the gutter press and that their testimonies' and character would be brought into question. Did it put them off speaking out? Thanks, real honour to hear your insight.

washingtonpost2244 karma

This is Stephanie. All the women who decided to go on the record did so expecting that they would most likely be attacked. They all had their own ways of preparing for publication day. They were all unwavering in their decision to go public once that decision was made.

Trimblco852 karma

Rumor is that you and other outlets are preparing a blockbuster story outing dozens of lawmakers for years of sexual assault allegations. Since we're closing in on an election year, when can we expect these allegations to be revealed? And do they disproportionately involve one political party?

washingtonpost1807 karma

We don't comment on reporting that is ongoing but there is a a lot of bad information out there. Our own reporting related to Roy Moore and Project Veritas shows that there are deliberate efforts to spread false information. - Beth

namaste_____inbed767 karma

Your team was surely aware the report would be disputed by Moore’s ardent supporters, no matter how much research. Was there discussion over how to respond to a group that dismisses any and all evidence? Was there a need to convince them the allegations are credible, not biased?

washingtonpost1381 karma

Before the story was published, we went to the campaign with all of our key findings, including the names of the women and an overview of their claims. The Moore campaign never responded specifically to those claims. Instead they made a general statement: "These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign." Beth

justablur767 karma

What amount of contact, if any, did you have with the "National Democrat Party" in the course of developing the story?

JFC: I'm not accusing them, just asking to reinforce that Moore's camp are liars. Please stop asploding my inbox.

washingtonpost1233 karma

None, zero, zilch. - Alice

washingtonpost630 karma


washingtonpost398 karma

This is Stephanie. We did expect that readers would have all sorts of questions. But the discussion was always focused on addressing those questions in the stories themselves, by being as transparent as possible with readers about how we went about the reporting.

Colonel_Gentleman585 karma

Have there been attempts from groups other than Project Veritas to seed disinformation in order to discredit your investigation? If so, will those be revealed?

Also, as an aside, will you please pass on our most profound thanks to the women whose bravery exposed Roy Moore (further) for what he is. I cannot even fathom the courage and tenacity they had to summon to tell their story. This country is in their debt for helping to save us from the corrupted rule of power mongers like Moore. All the very best to them.

DroDro120 karma

I watch a few right-wing Facebook pages and still see the "WaPo offered $1,000 for a Moore accuser" memes spread daily. By now, they have been stripped of any details for fact checking (they don't embed the tweet, for instance, and just make the assertion) so it is very hard to try to refute it. I alternate between trying gently to show the other commenters that it is incorrect, and just ripping into them for being gullible rubes supporting stolen valor (from the twitter account's identity appropriation).

It feels pointless to try to engage. Fake news is so asymmetric in that it is so easy to make, easy for some to believe, and nearly impossible to remove. 1) How do you deal personally with being targeted by fake news and 2) any ideas on ways to stop it?

washingtonpost125 karma

That allegation was from a known troll who has since been deactivated, here's a good piece on him: https://www.thedailybeast.com/troll-smearing-roy-moores-accuser-stole-dead-seals-identity?source=twitter&via=desktop - Alice

justablur539 karma

The night before the election, one of Roy Moore's Army buddies told an anecdote of a time they witnessed a fellow soldier patronize a brothel, in Vietnam, that he said had "very young girls" - has there been any investigation into that claim or is it not worth chasing?

washingtonpost861 karma

I did reach out to that buddy but he didn't get back to me. Beth

ThereIsNoTri505 karma

How big was the web of enablers? Or was it just shrugged off by the people around him as something that was somehow culturally acceptable?

washingtonpost976 karma

We talked to many people who said they had "heard" about Moore pursuing teenaged girls or said "everyone knew" but we worked hard to find people with direct knowledge of his behavior. A couple of the women we wrote about had openly dated Moore when they were teenagers so it wasn't a secret. Beth

practicaldad475 karma

Now that the election race is over do you think the victims will be taken more seriously? There was a good amount of Alabama white women and men voters thought the allegations were faked to derail Moore.

Edit: I was wrong to think it was majority source. scroll down to where it says most women and independents thought allegations were true.

washingtonpost699 karma

I think the fact that so many media outlets followed our stories reached out to the women we talked to shows that that they were taken seriously. Beth

LoisLaneNJ399 karma

Hi, great work!! I am a journalist and wish to know how you initially discovered -- before you found out the information Stephanie laid out in the video -- that the woman sent by Project Veritas was not telling the truth? Any tips on how to better vet people who I interview and who are dishonest and attempting to pull off a hoax would be much appreciated, thanks!

washingtonpost759 karma

We use a variety of public records and social media to match their story and to help determine their accuracy. But it can be an issue for news organizations that don't want to spend money on the tools and staff that can do this. Many media organizations have closed down or decimated their research departments. - Alice

azureai325 karma

What are your thoughts on this mysterious "Bernie Bernstein" guy who apparently works for the Post?

washingtonpost818 karma

There are no Post reporters or editors named Bernie Bernstein. It was clearly a hoax. Here's what our executive editor, Marty Baron said: "The response to our meticulously reported story about Roy Moore has been a stunning level of deceit, deception and dirty tricks. The Moore campaign and others have lied about our motives and lied about our methods. And at least one individual — we’re still not sure who — has also pretended to be a Post journalist so as to falsely portray our journalistic practices.” - Beth

Edit: Fixed typo. Thank you u/saladfork3

washingtonpost384 karma

That was Beth

31theories304 karma

Do you think Roy Moore will still have a career in Alabama politics after all of this?

washingtonpost906 karma

He still hasn't conceded! - Beth

SithlordRogerStone267 karma

I do have a question. Partially related to this.

Last month, someone from Project Veritas tried to give you fake accusations in order to discredit you and discredit the legitimate accusations against Moore, until you caught them.

Do you have any plans to file a lawsuit or anything like that against Project Veritas?

washingtonpost345 karma

No, nothing that we are aware of. - Alice

magicsonar202 karma

The 5th reported person to accuse Roy Moore was Beverly Young Nelson (with the Year Book). She appears to have been brought to the media's attention by Gloria Allred. Did the WaPo vet and check her story before adding her to the Washington Post's list of accusers?

washingtonpost395 karma

We reached out to Gloria repeatedly to try to connect with Beverly but she did not respond. Family members also declined to talk to us. So we did not report that we had confirmed her story. - Beth

DeliriousPrecarious142 karma

Based on your experience with the accusers why do you believe they chose to make themselves public now rather than during one of Judge Moore's other statewide campaigns? Do you believe the #meToo movement empowered them - or was there some other factor?

washingtonpost299 karma

It's hard to say whether they were influenced by the broader national environment. As for Leigh Corfman, her reasons for coming forward now were detailed in the story. She did think about coming forward during an earlier campaign, but was concerned about repercussions for her young children. - Stephanie

sundancekid005115 karma

As investigative journalists, how often do you have to confront fear, or work in fear? With a record number of journalists imprisoned this year, and increasing hostility toward journalists and news outlets, do you ever fear doing your job or uncovering something that would be dangerous to report? How do you deal with these emotions (if they exist at all) and continue to deliver good work?

washingtonpost342 karma

I didn't feel scared reporting in Gadsden, Ala. One of my colleagues. Liz Sly, the Beirut bureau chief, recently talked at a company-wide awards ceremony about the dangers she and other foreign correspondents face every day. That is real bravery. - Beth

maddu_daddu109 karma


washingtonpost276 karma

The women were there, of course. In the case of Leigh Corfman, there were certain details in her story that we were able to corroborate. Also, she told friends at the time who remembered her talking about it. In other cases, Moore dated teenagers openly or pursued them openly so there were witnesses. -- Stephanie

washingtonpost192 karma

That's often true and it is hard. We looked into the backgrounds of the women we interviewed to see if they had a history of fraud or making false allegations. In some cases, we talked to friends or relatives with whom they had shared their stories. - Beth

YourBlogSucksToo105 karma

Thank you very much for your quality reporting.

When you've spent time researching and putting together a bombshell like this, is it hard to transition back to working on the day-to-day journalism?

washingtonpost305 karma

I'm going on vacation for two weeks! - Beth

mrwho99565 karma

What is your vetting process for stories like this? Do you only publish allegations that you are certain of, or do you instead leave personal opinions out of it and publish if you think there is some sort of credible basis?

washingtonpost177 karma

We interviewed the women repeatedly, to make sure their recollections were consistent. We only reported details they were certain about, and when possible, we talked to people they had shared their stories with (mothers, friends, et al). We asked them if they had kept journals. (No). We also, when possible, pulled public records that would corroborate their stories. Beth

Artful_Dodger_4252 karma

When was the first allegation brought to your attention?

washingtonpost108 karma

October Beth

ChezBoris16 karma

Thank you for all the incredible work you do.

My question: Given your collective experience in investigative reporting, have you noticed an increase in distrust towards journalists when you engage everyday people as part of your investigative journalism. Specifically, have attempts to paint the media as biased, unfair, having an agenda, been successful in reducing the willingness of regular folks to give you information needed to do your job? tldr: Has the "fake news" campaign made your job harder?

washingtonpost69 karma

No and even people who cry "fake news" love to cite our stories in the Washington Post and other major news organizations when it suits them. Candidate Trump mentioned loving our story on Clinton and NY jobs during the campaign: http://wapo.st/2Bs8qLo - Alice

old_desert_guy8 karma

There must of have been an "incident" at the Gadsen mall to warrent his expulsion. Any ideas what was the underlining cause? BTW, outstanding work there.

washingtonpost30 karma

We never reported that he was expelled or banned from the mall, only that he was a frequent presence and often seen talking to young women who worked there. We interviewed dozens of people who had worked or hung out there. - Beth

phosphenes7 karma

Obviously you don't want to endanger survivors of sexual violence. How do you weigh the safety of your sources versus the openness of your story? Do you ever encourage women to stay anonymous?

washingtonpost25 karma

No, we don't encourage anonymity. But we do encourage potential sources to think about the consequences of going on the record so they can make solid decisions about that. Otherwise the best "protection" for a source is to handle a story responsibly, to report thoroughly and therefore hopefully minimize the ways the story-- and the sources--can be attacked. -- Stephanie

toaurdethtdes3 karma

What is your favorite color?

washingtonpost14 karma

Hard to pick just one. Beth

washingtonpost14 karma

I'm going with blue. Stephanie

washingtonpost12 karma

Still mulling this one... Beth

PoliticsSockPuppet2 karma

First, thanks for your work. My question is do you feel that the media in general are ill equipped to cover Donald? It would seem that many of your colleagues work very hard to normalize this administration when it is obviously anything but. Your colleagues seem reticent to speak bluntly about Donald and call his lies a lie.

washingtonpost18 karma

We have some of the best coverage of the Trump administration both daily stories and investigative pieces. And we have the fabulous Fact Checker column that you should read: www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/category/donald-trump/?utm_term=.fb2985c50b9c - Alice

Gargatua130131 karma

Hey! Greetings and thanks for the AMA!

Although I am aware that too often, abuse and harassment gets swept under the rug, have there been attempts to prosecute M Moore for his actions that you know of? If so, what happened?

washingtonpost1 karma

The statute of limitations has run out. - Beth

ChrysMYO-1 karma

Great job on saving the nation.

What gave you the impetus to look into his sexual misconduct history?

Like he tried to say in the campaign. It had never came up in other campaigns.

How did you guys know to look into it?

washingtonpost1 karma

After our story broke, some Alabama reporters said on Twitter that they had heard rumors about him pursuing teenagers before. Not sure if they investigated or thought the rumors weren't credible. - Beth

swim_to_survive-2 karma

What did you think of The Last Jedi?

washingtonpost2 karma

Still haven't seen it. Still loving Ladybird. - Beth

thxxx1337-3 karma

What did you think of Last Jedi?

washingtonpost14 karma

Haven't seen it. But I loved Ladybird! Also looking forward to The Post movie :) Beth

Mantisbog-3 karma

What's Bernie Bernstein like to work with?

washingtonpost7 karma

Never met the man. Beth