The Spectacular Fall of the Lincoln Project

Alex Shepherd, writing for The New Republic, outlines the downfall of Election 2020’s social media darlings-The Lincoln Project.

In the days leading up to the 2020 presidential election, the Lincoln Project, the viral ad-making Never Trump group, was riding high. Over the previous 11 months, the group’s videos and tweets had been viewed tens of millions of times and it had raised tens of millions of dollars. It had garnered the attention of Trump himself, who regarded the group as a thorn in his side and frequently groused about it, both in public and in private. The group was also on the verge of a huge victory. With Trump facing a historic wipeout, the Lincoln Project could claim it played a decisive role in his defeat, particularly for marshaling Republicans to Joe Biden’s side.

The group seemed poised to enter a new stratum of success, one that wouldn’t require its muse. The Lincoln Project had ambitions of creating a political influence company that would guide campaigns for years to come, while also negotiating with United Talent Agency on a host of projects befitting a multiplatform media behemoth: podcasts, books, movies, even a House of Cards–esque TV series.

The last few months have seen all those castle-in-the-sky dreams come crashing down.

Mostly because I liked what Steve Schmidt and Rick Wilson said in their appearances on the evening infotainment shows, I started paying attention to The Lincoln Project. I thought their videos were incredibly inventive and viral at times. I listened to their main podcast, but grew disenchanted with them and moved on. The scandals hit and I started feeling skeptical of their intentions and what appears to be a lot of grifts.

I’ll take a wait and see position in 2021.

February 12, 2021