Lincoln Project faces widespread media criticism over latest embarrassment, a viral hoax in Virginia race

CNN panel rips ‘bizarre’ Lincoln Project hoax in Virginia governor’s race

A CNN panel decries the Lincoln Project’s viral white supremacist hoax in the Virginia governor’s race and how it contributes to wider mistrust.

The Lincoln Project’s revelation Friday that it was behind a viral hoax to smear Glenn Youngkin supporters in Virginia as White supremacists was the latest embarrassment in 2021 for the anti-Trump PAC and led to sharp criticism from the left-leaning cable outlets that have often given it a platform.

After a year marked by reports of covering up a sexual harassment scandal by one of its co-founders, financial skullduggery and self-dealing with liberal donor money, a toxic work environment, and the publishing of its lone female co-founder’s private messages with a reporter investigating  the group once again made headlines for the wrong reasons last week.

The fanatically anti-GOP organization admitted on Friday to organizing a phony group of tiki-torch bearing people pretending to be supporters of the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, only after suspicion spread online that it was a hoax. The group said it was meant to remind Virginians of the Charlottesville violence in 2017.

Campaign signs for Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin stand together on the last day of early voting in the Virginia gubernatorial election in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S., October 30, 2021.
(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

“The Lincoln Project has run advertisements highlighting the hate unleashed in Charlottesville as well as Glenn Youngkin’s continued failure to denounce Donald Trump’s ‘very fine people on both sides.’ We will continue to draw this contrast in broadcast videos, on our social media platforms, and at Youngkin rallies,” the group stated in a press release. “Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it.”

Although the Terry McAuliffe campaign, which the Lincoln Project strongly supports, condemned the stunt, many McAuliffe staffers seized on it, including spokesperson Christina Freundlich.

The group, a media darling in 2020 for its truculent anti-Republican ads that even got a “60 Minutes” profile, faced condemnation from around the political spectrum for the deceitful tactic. In addition to getting divebombed on Twitter, the Lincoln Project was blasted by the Wall Street Journal editorial board for the “sleazy” stunt, and panels on left-leaning outlets CNN and MSNBC, who have often platformed the Lincoln Project’s ads and members, also criticized their dishonesty.

Former GOP congressman Carlos Curbelo, a Donald Trump critic, said on MSNBC Saturday that it “backfired” and the Lincoln Project had “lost their step a little bit.” Liberal MSNBC anchor Ayman Mohyeldin replied, “Well said.”

Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin speaks during a campaign event in Old Town Alexandria’s Farmers Market in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., October 30, 2021.
(REUTERS/Joshua Robert)

On CNN, anchor Pamela Brown simply said “wow” after reading out the Lincoln Project’s statement about the hoax. Politico’s Rachael Bade added it was “mind-blowing” for the group to claim it wanted a healthier Republican Party.

“They do something like this and it creates this distrust in the greater atmosphere,” she said. There were people after January 6, many Republicans trying to blame January 6 on antifa, the left,” she said. “And like if you pull stunts like this, you put it out there that, OK, people don’t trust what they’re seeing. They don’t trust the facts and this is where you get conspiracy theories. This is dangerous … It is going to backfire on the the group clearly. Perhaps even on Democrats.”

“It is not good in this age of so much misinformation,” Brown added.

Lincoln Project adviser Stuart Stevens defended the hoax on CNN Friday as a way of playing “hardball” with political opponents. However, the group has repeatedly decried what it calls “lies” and “disinformation” from its political opponents.

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

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