The Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump group known for its bombastic ads and questionable finances, has essentially imploded as scandals plague the group, but critics are now pointing fingers at the liberal journalists who built the super PAC up.
Lincoln Project co-founders emerged as regulars on MSNBC and CNN, while CBS’ “60 Minutes” dedicated a glowing segment to the beleaguered group.
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Bombshell reports published Thursday by the Associated Press and New York magazine allege that the leaders of the anti-Trump PAC were made aware in June 2020 of at least 10 sexual harassment allegations against their disgraced colleague John Weaver, including two involving Lincoln Project employees. The reports also detail the sexually-charged messages Weaver sent to young men and the Times reported that “new revelations about spending practices raise significant questions” about group’s the management.
But Weaver’s fellow co-founders Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson and George Conway were turned into stars by the press. MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace regularly offered them a platform and “60 Minutes” icon Lesley Stahl celebrated the group’s “biting” anti-Trump ad campaign. As the group’s skeletons have started to emerge, critics feel the press built the Lincoln Project up a little too much.
“This puff piece from 60 Minutes on the Lincoln Project looks particularly puffy today,” Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake tweeted Friday to accompany video of the segment.
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MSNBC’s Wallace hosted Schmidt so many times that a video showcasing all the times she thanked him for appearing over the last seven months was published on Twitter. That was just the tip of the iceberg, as Schmidt has been a regular guest on her show since 2017 who could be reliably counted upon to denounce Trump and Republicans.
The group announced its existence in a December 2019 op-ed in the New York Times, authored by four of the co-founders, including Weaver. Another author, Conway, blasted it Thursday for publishing the private messages of fellow co-founder Jennifer Horn talking to a reporter about her recent exit.
The group and its campaigns were profiled numerous times, including by TIME (‘a knack for quickly producing memorable videos and advertisements”), the New Yorker (“edgy tweets”), the Washingtonian (“one of the signature political groups of the 2020 race”), Politico, and others. It wasn’t all positive, as some like Andrew Ferguson in The Atlantic said it hardly lived up to its namesake with its vitriolic approach.
It also received praise from conservative-turned-liberal writers in the Washington Post like Max Boot and Jennifer Rubin, who once referred to the Lincoln Project as “NeverTrump geniuses.” Boot and Rubin are regular guests on CNN and MSNBC, respectively.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald scolded the press for promoting the group.
“They scammed enormous numbers of liberals out of their major money in the middle of a pandemic — because NBC, CNN, and others (60 Minutes) promoted them as a group of noble, honest people of conscience when it was clear they were grifters and liars,” he tweeted.
The Free Beacon put together a supercut of the media building the group up back in October:
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Meanwhile, cable news hosts such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper have regularly interviewed founding members of the embattled group and oddly fail to ask about the scandal.
Conway, who left The Lincoln Project in August 2020, called the New York magazine report “disturbing and appalling” before offering the group some legal advice – but Cooper didn’t bother to ask him about it during an appearance on “AC 360” Thursday night as chaos among the group was all the rage on social media.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn and David Rutz contributed to this report.