On Wednesday, The Intercept ran an article to essentially provide cover for the Lincoln Project and the Virginia Democrats, whose operatives promoted a stunt intended to make Republican Glenn Youngkin look like the choice candidate of white supremacists in Virginia.
It is nonsense, and details of the piece have been picked apart by other journalists who dispute claims made by The Intercept, which only issued mild corrections to their misidentification of one of the journalists who uncovered the hoax, and a Democrat operative who presented the hoax as real.
The core of the article remains adamant that the hoax was never planned to be presented as real.
While some of the original article has been updated to reflect disputes to the claims made by its author, Ryan Grim, the article maintains that the Lincoln Project always intended to have the Democrat operatives who were dressed up as members of the so-called "alt-right" to identify themselves honestly as working for the Lincoln Project if asked by journalists.
The five operatives, which included three white men, a white woman, and a black man, dressed in polo shirts, khaki pants, and carried tiki torches in a uniform reminiscent of the "Unite the Right" protesters in Charlottesville in 2017. The group stood in front of a Glenn Youngkin tour bus when it made its way to Charlottesville.
The Intercept claims that none of the operatives were ever asked by journalists about their identity.
According to the article, the Youngkin stunt from last Saturday was never meant to come off as authentic.
"The operatives were instructed to reveal to any reporter who asked that they were there on behalf of the Lincoln Project. The problem for the actors: Nobody in the media approached them. They were likely scared off by the drizzle, said Pete Callahan, another Democratic operative," The Intercept's Ryan Grim claims.
"I was surprised people bit on it, thinking it wasn’t a stunt. It didn’t make sense to me that it wouldn’t be a stunt. I just assumed nobody would think it’s real," Democrat Operative Pete Callahan told The Intercept. Callahan’s part is clearing the names of people on social media apparently mistakenly identified as involved.
As the article details, Alec Sears, a conservative freelance writer (initially misidentified as a Daily Caller staff writer) began hunting down the identities of the five hoaxers, reporting that he had confidently identified two of the five.
The Intercept's Ryan Grim claims to have identified their drivers' licenses and that both of Sears' identifications were "incorrect."
"When the falsely accused Democratic operatives made their social media accounts private, the move was cited as further evidence of their guilt. Only one of the five people involved on the ground was a Democratic operative — Golden — while the rest were hired hands, and The Intercept agreed to keep their names private," the Intercept reported, referring to Ian Golden, who was directed by Democrat operative Lauren Windsor to be the spokesperson and organizer of the fake group.
"The story was also updated to include a tweet by Lauren Windsor elevating the stunt as real," Grim wrote in his correction.
That she did.
But problems with the piece still persist.
It wasn’t just conservative media attempting to identify the people involved, either. Jim Bourg of Reuters commented that it was "simply not true" that nobody in the media approached them.
"We repeatedly asked them individually their names, who they were with and what group if any they represented and they would not say anything at all," he said.
The Intercept article has not yet been updated to reflect that.
Moreover, when VICE ran their story making the official linkage to the Lincoln Project, senior political reporter Cameron Joseph admitted "they only took credit/blame after I told them I IDed someone in the photo."
This undermines the narrative framing that The Intercept piece attempts to portray. In fact that very evening, Lauren Windsor accused Cameron Joseph of not disclosing his personal relationship to the person he ID’d.
This article will be updated if and when the The Intercept retracts its article or issues necessary corrections.