Democratic activist group lambasted for staging hoax linking Republican gubernatorial candidate to white supremacy

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM NEWS


The heated Virginia governor race has once again captured headlines, this time thanks to a political stunt meant to portray Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin as a white supremacist. The hoax spectacularly backfired, exposing a sense of panic among Democrats as their candidate slumps in the polls in a race widely viewed as a bellwether for 2022 midterms.

Images of a group wearing matching white shirts and khakis, holding tiki torches, and standing in front of a Youngkin campaign bus took Twitter by storm last week as Democrats sounded the white supremacy alarm against their candidate’s opponent. Campaign staff members for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe immediately seized on the images to denounce Youngkin as a racist. The imagery of the tiki torches was purportedly meant to invoke the memory of the deadly Charlottesville Unite the Right rally of 2017 during which James Alex Fields, Jr. deliberately drove his car into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer and injuring another. 

“The Unite the Right rally was one of the darkest days in the Commonwealth’s history. [T]his is who Glenn Youngkin’s supporters are,” tweeted McAuliffe spokesperson Christina Freundlich Friday. 

Soon, however, skeptics on Twitter began voicing suspicions of a hoax orchestrated by Youngkin opponents, particularly after individuals in the photo were publicly ID’d on the social media platform. Following exposure of the ruse, organizers of leftist activist group  the Lincoln Project took ownership of the stunt, spinning it instead as a “demonstration.” 

“The Lincoln Project has run advertisements highlighting the hate unleashed in Charlottesville as well as Glenn Youngkin’s continued failure to denounce Donald Trump’s ‘very fine people on both sides,’” read a statement from the group. “We will continue to draw this contrast in broadcast videos, on our social media platforms, and at Youngkin rallies. Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it.”

As news of the hoax spread, however, accusations of coordination between the Lincoln Project and McAuliffe’s campaign began to surface, prompting Freundlich to remove the tweet.

Virginia Democrats Executive Director Andrew Whitley moved swiftly to deny any involvement by the McAuliffe team. “The Democratic party of Virginia, along with its coordinated partners and its affiliates, did not have any role today in the events that happened outside of the Youngkin campaign bus stop today,” he  tweeted, adding “For anyone to accuse our staff to have a role in this event is shameful and wrong.”   

McAuliffe campaign manager Chris Rolling tweeted, “What happened today is disgusting and distasteful and we condemn it in the strongest terms. Those involved should immediately apologize.”

Several Twitter users, however, were not so quick to let the Dems off the hook for the shady stunt including  Fourth Watch media critic Steve Krakauer.

“Apparently, it’s totally fine to dress up as tiki torch nazis as long as you play for the right team,” tweeted Daily Caller reporter Andrew Kerr in direct response to the Lincoln Project statement.  

“I do not think it’s out of [the] realm of possibility that Lincoln Project is taking blame, because they have no shame and their reputation really can’t get any worse,” Washington Free Beacon executive editor Brent Scher tweeted.

Virginia’s closely-watched governor’s race, which initially gave McAuliffe a comfortable lead in the blue state, began drawing national attention when Youngkin, campaigning as a champion of parents’ rights in the education of their children, began surging in the polls. Virginia has become a hotbed for clashes seen nationwide between parents and school board members over issues like critical race theory curricula and transgender school polices. 

The contentious debate on parents’ rights ratcheted up when Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate as possible domestic terrorists parents who show up at public school board meetings to voice concerns over these and other issues they deem harmful to their children.