The anti-Trump organization the Lincoln Project became the subject of intense criticism after it coordinated a hoax show of support by ostensible white nationalists for Republican Virginia gubernatorial frontrunner Glenn Youngkin.
In the viral incident, a group sporting khaki pants, baseball hats, and tiki torches lined in up in front of a Youngkin campaign bus to declare their endorsement of the candidate in a way that was presumably supposed to mimic the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.
“We’re all in for Glenn,” the activists proclaimed.
After rumors circulated that the stunt was launched by Youngkin’s political adversaries, the Lincoln Project claimed responsibility. It was later revealed that the demonstrators were paid by the non-profit to position themselves as white supremacists affiliated with Youngkin as part of a disinformation campaign against him.
“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 Lincoln Project wrote 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.”
Journalists erupted in outrage, calling it hypocritical that mainstream and social-media platforms would shield the Lincoln Project from accountability when their tactics would likely earn cancellation if orchestrated by a conservative group against the Democratic opponent.
“I do not think it’s out of realm of possibility that Lincoln Project is taking blame, because they have no shame and their reputation really can’t get any worse,” Washington Free Beacon executive editor Brent Scher tweeted.
I do not think it’s out of realm of possibility that Lincoln Project is taking blame, because they have no shame and their reputation really can’t get any worse.
— Brent Scher (@BrentScher) October 29, 2021
“Needless to say, right-wing groups that perpetrated a fraud like this — causing media figures and campaign operatives to spend all day swamping Twitter with an outright racist lie — would be instantly banned from social media,” Substack journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.
Needless to say, right-wing groups that perpetrated a fraud like this — causing media figures and campaign operatives to spend all day swamping Twitter with an outright racist lie — would be instantly banned from social media. https://t.co/Jm2OqY3bBC
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 29, 2021
Republican lawmakers also slammed the episode, suggesting that Virginia Democrats are resorting to desperate measures ahead of the November 2 gubernatorial election, which appears to have recently turned in Youngkin’s favor. A recent Fox News poll projected him 8 points ahead of McAuliffe.
“This is disgusting,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) wrote on Twitter.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 29, 2021
“How much more proof do we need that the Lincoln Project is nothing but a bunch of deranged hacks?,” Republican representative Dan Crenshaw (Texas) tweeted Friday.
How much more proof do we need that the Lincoln Project is nothing but a bunch of deranged hacks? https://t.co/UVPt3LQzb6
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) October 29, 2021