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Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt guaranteed that stories from multiple mainstream media outlets outlining dysfunction and scandal at his organization would be “discredited” on Thursday.
“By the time the sun sets on the West Coast of the United States of America the below stories will all be discredited. I will be asking @nytimes, @NYMag @AP for FULL-THROATED CORRECTIONS,” he tweeted.
Schmidt, who says he no longer has involvement with the disgraced PAC known as much for its anti-Trump exploits as its myriad of scandals and public fiascos, assailed the New York Times (“21 Men Accuse Lincoln Project Co-Founder of Online Harassment”), New York Magazine (“The Predator in the Lincoln Project”), and the Associated Press (“How a leading anti-Trump group ignored a crisis in its ranks”) over their stories in 2021 about fellow co-founder John Weaver’s online harassment of young, gay men.
Schmidt chiefly took issue with any perception that he was aware of specific accusations about Weaver’s behavior before the public was and did nothing about it. Schmidt was quoted on the record in all three stories mentioned in his tweet; he said he’d heard vague rumors about Weaver being a closeted homosexual but didn’t know about the extent of his predatory conduct of dangling job opportunities and social media clout while using inappropriate sexual language. He also distanced himself from Weaver last year, calling him a liar and predator.
The New York Magazine piece detailed Weaver’s harassment of one college-aged man who joined the Lincoln Project, and who he continued to send inappropriate messages while he was an intern there, and quoted one person who remembered Schmidt and co-founder Rick Wilson saying Weaver’s behavior was depraved. Schmidt’s denial of the anecdote was included in the article by Miranda Green, who Schmidt also attacked on Twitter, tagging the wrong Miranda Green in the process.
The bombastic political strategist and frequent MSNBC guest has written more about it in a newly launched Substack, “The Warning,” sharing a lengthy letter by a law firm to the New York Times assailing it, New York Magazine, and the Associated Press for their coverage.
“The letter below demolishes the atrocious journalism of The New York Times, New York Magazine and The Associated Press. It tells the true story of The Lincoln Project – the one the reporters didn’t get,” Schmidt wrote.
Schmidt attacked several other Times stories about him through the letter from his firm, and the letter included his claim that Lincoln Project co-founder Reed Galen received an email in June 2020 making multiple, specific allegations of misconduct against Weaver and didn’t share it with Schmidt or fellow co-founder Rick Wilson.
“Galen’s decision not to surface the Weaver email was a self-inflicted wound, which, combined with the reckless and irresponsible reporting by The New York Times and other media, caused irreparable harm to The Lincoln Project and those associated with it, including and especially Schmidt, given his high profile and leadership role, including in particular his role as The Lincoln Project spokesperson on the Weaver matter,” the letter states.
As of Friday afternoon, no corrections or addendums to the stories Schmidt targeted have been added. Spokespersons for the New York Times and AP didn’t respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Vox Media, which owns New York Magazine, backed up its report.
“We stand by this story; we have not been made aware of anything requiring a correction,” Vox Media spokesperson Laura Coates told Fox News Digital.
Schmidt’s online rage over the stories is the latest odd turn in the saga of the Lincoln Project, which raised nearly $90 million in 2020 but was later consumed by Weaver’s scandal, as well as reports of financial self-dealing, bitter in-fighting, a toxic work environment, and calls by even its own former members to shut down.
It remains in operation today, but it’s viewed warily even by some Democrats. For instance, Democratic Ohio Senate candidate Tim Ryan’s campaign recently urged it not to assist in his race against Republican J.D. Vance.
Over the past week, Schmidt has unleashed on pundits, publications and enemies in hundreds of tweets. Among those he’s attacked has included many of his fellow Lincoln Project officials – he says he left the scandal-plagued group in November, which was shortly after its viral racial hoax in Virginia was exposed – Meghan McCain, Sarah Palin, the New York Times, the Washington Examiner, the Washington Free Beacon’s Eliana Johnson, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, radio host Erick Erickson, NeverTrumper Cheri Jacobus, conservative activist Matt Schlapp, journalist Glenn Greenwald, longtime GOP aide Josh Holmes and journalist Ryan Girdusky, who broke the story about Weaver’s online harassment last year.
Schmidt, who eulogized McCain as “the greatest man I’ve ever known” when he died in 2018, unloaded to Politico in a podcast interview released Friday that McCain had “betrayed” him and he couldn’t bring himself to vote for him in 2008, despite being his campaign strategist. He claimed he told the Vietnam War hero to “go f— yourself” after McCain allegedly disclosed that a New York Times story about an inappropriate and possibly romantic relationship with a lobbyist was accurate. McCain had denied the story, and Schmidt said he made a liar out of them both.
Schmidt told CNN’s “Reliable Sources” podcast this week that his lies were of “omission” by not previously revealing McCain’s alleged deceit.
Schmidt’s close friend and fellow McCain aide Nicolle Wallace also didn’t vote for him in 2008; Schmidt is a frequent guest on Wallace’s left-wing MSNBC program “Deadline: White House,” one of the most vitriolically anti-GOP shows on cable news. Schmidt was previously an MSNBC contributor but as of the end of 2020 has no official relationship with the progressive cable channel.
He also claimed during his Twitter marathon this week that he had once stared John McCain down when they were awaiting a “Morning Joe” appearance and forced him to break eye contact over “shame” about their relationship.
Schmidt’s broadsides against McCain in death have not endeared him to alumni from the 2008 campaign, although he was already so disliked by the family by the time of his death that he and Wallace were not invited to the funeral. Schmidt wrote this week that the leak of that news in 2018 was “humiliating.”
“Maybe Steve didn’t get paid but he fed off that campaign like a parasite and killed it in the process,” a senior 2008 McCain aide told Fox News Digital. “He leaked like a sieve, always at the campaign’s expense and to the benefit of his own fame and fortune.”
The aide nodded to Schmidt’s cooperation with the 2012 HBO film “Game Change,” the dramatization of the book covering the 2008 presidential campaign and the choice of Palin as McCain’s running mate, where Schmidt was sympathetically portrayed by liberal actor Woody Harrelson. The two struck up a friendship over the course of the filming; in the movie, both Schmidt and Wallace are depicted as well-intentioned but increasingly horrified by an incompetent, unprepared and unhinged Palin.
Schmidt lambasted Palin in the aftermath of the 2008 campaign, en route to multiple stints as an MSNBC analyst, but never went on the full attack against McCain until this week, nearly four years after his death.
“He didn’t want money – he wanted to be on the red carpet with Woody Harrelson and in the good graces of the [New York Times] and [Washington Post] reporters he was leaking to,” the aide said. “I’m sure he was smart enough to know that the money would follow from all that. The guy buried bodies for a living and now he has to exhume a war hero and piss all over him just to show what a great guy he is and how none of it was his fault.”
Schmidt and Galen didn’t reply to a request for comment.
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