This certainly could be possible in our online world, but is it credible? George Conway told Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier today that he barely knew John Weaver, his co-founder of The Lincoln Project. That group finally began distancing itself from Weaver yesterday after the New York Times reported nearly two dozen men coming forward to accuse Weaver of sexually predatory behavior. Two weeks earlier, the Lincoln Project had stood behind Weaver, but now everyone appears to be looking to conduct a rapid retreat, including his partner in the anti-Trump effort (via Twitchy):
"It's terrible and awful…I didn't know John very well. I frankly only spoke to him a couple times on the phone early on in the Lincoln Project." pic.twitter.com/eKo0meptls
— The Recount (@therecount) February 1, 2021
Not only did they launch the well-funded Lincoln Project together, they also wrote at least one New York Times op-ed together as well, along with fellow Never Trumpers Rick Wilson and Steve Schmidt. Noah Blum brings receipts:
Weird. Here are their bylines together on a New York Times op-ed. pic.twitter.com/996PGoPlPg
— Noam Blum (@neontaster) February 1, 2021
It’s fair to argue that people who work with alleged sexual predators probably have no clue as to what their behavior is. Such people go to some lengths to target people with less power and fewer connections, making their victims particularly vulnerable. The allegations involving Weaver might particularly lend themselves to that issue, as Weaver mainly solicited his targets online via social media and e-mail. Had Conway just said, “I worked with John often in our professional efforts but had no knowledge of his private interactions,” that would certainly be believable.
So why not just say that, rather than claim not to know Weaver at all? Part of it might be what Taylor pointed out in his post last night, which is that rumors of predatory behavior have followed Weaver for years in Texas and GOP circles. Weaver and his allies played it off as a dirty-tricks campaign by rival Karl Rove, whom this story tends to exonerate now. (Looks like The New Republic might need to dust off its retraction strategies.) People with connections in those circles would probably have heard the stories, even if they didn’t believe them.
A late denial of knowledge would be more credible than a denial of acquaintance, though. It takes a lot of effort, planning, and coordination to run a multimillion-dollar operation like the Lincoln Project. It also takes close communication to co-write an op-ed between four different people. Perhaps that op-ed just got written by one person and the other three simply agreed to attach their names to it, but if so, then Conway owes an explanation for it, along with how exactly he only came into contact with Weaver a couple of times as he claims while coordinating Lincoln Project business. This explanation is clearly insufficient.