MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace, the former Republican flack-turned-reliable Democratic media sycophant, was one of the leading promoters of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project throughout 2020 but ignored its scandals over the past month.
Given Wallace’s background as a onetime Republican and current GOP critic, it made sense that her afternoon program “Deadline: White House” would become a regular stop for Lincoln Project co-founders like Steve Schmidt and Rick Wilson, who became media stars for bolting the GOP over disgust with former President Donald Trump.
Over at least nine appearances between Jan. 11 and Feb. 8 by Schmidt, Wilson, and Lincoln Project advisers Kurt Bardella and Tara Setmayer, Wallace did not ask about the scandal over co-founder John Weaver’s harassment of young, gay men, including a 14-year-old, according to a media analysis. Conservative author and journalist Ryan Girdusky first broke the story about Weaver’s predations on Jan. 11.
Since that time, the organization has crumbled after multiple reports that Schmidt and others knew about Weaver’s harassment of young men earlier than they claimed. In addition, criticism of the group’s questionable finances and its toxic work environment have increased.
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MSNBC did not respond to a request for comment.
Just two of the original eight Lincoln Project co-founders remain at the organization. Co-founder George Conway, who stepped down last year, has called for The Lincoln Project’s dissolution. Bardella, who resigned from the group amid the fallout, also said it should be shut down.
MSNBC ignored the Weaver story until “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski asked Conway about it on Feb. 1. Conway expressed disgust with Weaver’s behavior but added he didn’t know him well.
Wallace and Schmidt are friends and worked in the George W. Bush White House as well as on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. Both made enemies in the McCain camp by leaking to reporters about the campaign’s problems and were not invited to the senator’s 2018 funeral. By 2016, they had reinvented themselves as fierce critics of their own party on MSNBC.
Wallace started hosting “Deadline: White House” in 2017 and found ratings success with her anti-Trump diatribes. Schmidt, who announced Friday he was stepping away from the public eye in the wake of The Lincoln Project’s controversies, has been one of her most consistent guests over the years.
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Wallace tweets out some the show’s more notable clips after each program concludes. Using that measurement, Fox News counted at least 34 separate appearances by Schmidt since he launched the Lincoln Project in December 2019, and nine others by Wilson. Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele broke the news he had joined the group on Wallace’s program on Aug. 24 and has made 18 other appearances since then.
In an appearance on Election Day, Wallace told Wilson he had helped restructure the race with his “unrelenting a**-kicking of Donald Trump and his children and his campaign advisers.”
Wallace often played and praised the Lincoln Project’s vitriolic anti-GOP ads, which a study found proved to be ineffective in moving swing voters.
“Most Democrats would concede that this is a group whose ad-making acumen is in a league of its own,” Wallace cooed on July 13, adding she had worked closely with many of the Lincoln Project’s members earlier in her career.
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Wallace also hosted Wilson on Dec. 17, 2019, the day the group announced its formation in a New York Times op-ed, and pushed the narrative that it wanted to remake, rather than destroy, the Republican Party. However, that mission statement was called into question as The Lincoln Project sought unsuccessfully to defeat moderate GOP lawmakers like Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in the 2020 cycle, in addition to ousting staunch Trump supporters.
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Wallace helped lead MSNBC’s political coverage during the 2020 cycle, and she made no effort to be objective. She frequently boasted she would vote for whichever Democrat won the nomination, and she gushed over the large field of candidates, saying things like “everyone loves Joe Biden,” Pete Buttigieg was “chicken soup for my soul,” and calling Kamala Harris “beautiful” and “badass.”
In one widely mocked segment in 2019, she asked then-candidate Beto O’Rourke what the media could do better in its political coverage.