The so-called Lincoln Project — the self-indulgent group of former minor lights in the anti-Trump Republican establishment who’ve made a splash with ads deliberately baiting the president — has truly arrived in the past month or so.
Suddenly, they’ve managed to take over the conversation over the media proclaiming them geniuses they don’t quite trust but are happy to have on their side this one term.
The group ended up making some bad headlines this week. First, there was the departure of George Conway from the group; his spouse, who he’s denigrated for her work as one of President Donald Trump’s chief advisers, also resigned from her position.
Both said they were taking time away to focus on family — which actually sounded like a solid idea, considering the fractious state of their marriage and the fact their 15-year-old daughter has become a social media star by slagging her parents, Kellyanne in particular. That’s not healthy environs for anyone. (Their daughter, who says her mother “ruined her life” and that she and her dad “agree on absolutely nothing” other than Trump’s unfitness for office, still plans to push for “emancipation,” according to the U.K. Daily Mail.)
Then there was the issue of Trump’s Tuesday news conference, which ended with the Lincoln Project trying to say a supporter of Trump called Barack Obama a “monkey” during the proceedings — which he definitely didn’t say.
That tweet’s been deleted, but not before significant controversy besmirched the media-appointed saviors of the Republican Party (until they can start calling them evil again, that is).
First, I’d like to note the great thing about the roll call at the Republican National Convention is that we don’t have to listen to a mildly connected state politico read off his state’s praises in a vote that’s a fait accompli.
“The great state of Illinois, home of Abraham Lincoln, where our 16th president cobbled together a legal practice in a small town and rose to be one of the greatest men in the pantheon of great leaders; of the great poet Carl Sandberg, a literary genius whose poetry stitched together a patchwork quilt of the decency of the common man; of Barack Obama, whose presidency … [five minutes later and several flips of the channel] … and of our great Chicago Cubs, who are finally World Series champions, casts 95 of its delegates for Joe Biden and 60 for Bernie Sanders.”
Stop it. And while some liked the Democrats’ slightly modified version of this tradition, I was still happy to see most people tuned out on this and the rest of the Democratic convention. But I digress, since what we’re dealing with here involves the news conference Trump gave after he got the nomination virtually uncontested.
At eight seconds into this video, someone yells what sounds like “Spygate!” at a mention of Obama.
When another person yells “Sleepy Joe!” Trump says, “Let’s be nice.”
The Lincoln Project didn’t hear “Spygate!” however. What they heard was an invented racial slur. And then they blamed Trump supporters for it in a Monday tweet.
Twitter explodes claiming Trump laughs after an audience member yells “monkey” at the mention of Obama. Others think the man yelled “Spygate”
Another attendee shouts “Sleepy Joe” and the President says “let’s be nice. Biden.”
We report, you decide! pic.twitter.com/XXGgIRGmdw
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) August 24, 2020
It was quickly removed by the Lincoln Project, except it was captured for posterity via screen shots:
The Lincoln Project has taken down its tweet alleging someone at the GOP convention said “monkey” about Obama, despite the audio, after initially defending it. pic.twitter.com/eAizpbkhGS
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) August 24, 2020
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) August 24, 2020
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.
— Brandy Zadrozny (@BrandyZadrozny) August 16, 2020
Here’s another! What a weird thing to do, especially taking content from people who have their own large followings. https://t.co/rOaO319gK5
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) August 16, 2020
It also fits quite nicely with the nominee they’ve chosen to endorse, I suppose.
As National Review’s Tobias Hoonhout noted in a Tuesday story, this was quickly picked up some in the media who were looking to wield the cudgel:
“But others immediately jumped on the false claim. ‘This should be headlined news,’ Mehdi Hasan tweeted. Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart compared the situation to Trump’s ‘very fine people’ comments in 2017 about the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Va.”
Except it wasn’t and they all knew it. Some of those tweets have been taken down, others remain up but with a dead link to the deleted Lincoln Project tweet.
Some in the liberal media pointed out the obvious — including Vox’s Aaron Rupar and The Washington Post’s Philip Bump:
I don’t think this is right. I went back and re-listened. The man yells “spygate!” and then someone in the crowd says, “Sleepy Joe!” That latter remark is the one Trump joked about. https://t.co/mzVr92MBo8
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 24, 2020
He said “spygate” — and the laughing was about someone else saying “Sleepy Joe.” https://t.co/m65KPQKNea
— Philip Bump (@pbump) August 24, 2020
The Lincoln Project did issue an apology Tuesday. It wasn’t what you might have thought it was for, however.
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) August 26, 2020
That’s Tiffany Trump’s leaked speech. Well, I suppose in the context of the Lincoln Project, it should be considered stolen.
Accusing the president of laughing off a racial slur is pretty hefty stuff, particularly when you consider the fact there was another explanation for this.
The Lincoln Project could have exercised caution here. That’s not what they’re about, though. They’re about plagiarized content and viral ads that are factually challenged.
It gets the media’s attention, sure. Eventually, they’re going to have to stop ignoring the Lincoln Project’s flaws — the ones that don’t just involve them being alleged Republicans — and start reporting on this malignant sloppiness.
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