Feb 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Lincoln Project co-founder starting new podcast company

Ron Steslow

Ron Steslow, a political strategist who hosted The Lincoln Project's podcast, is launching a new podcast company called Politicology, promising "politics without the blinders."

Why it matters: His venture could capture large audiences seeking to understand America's troubled political undercurrents.

The big picture: It comes amid transition and crisis for Lincoln Project, a hugely successful anti-Trump advocacy group started by Republicans and former Republicans, which raised millions of dollars for viral ads and memes advocating Joe Biden's election.

  • On Sunday, the New York Times published a story that another Lincoln Project co-founder, John Weaver, was accused of sexual harassment by 21 young men. The Lincoln Project disavowed Weaver's actions in a statement.
  • Steslow and co-founder Mike Madrid resigned from the Lincoln Project in December.
  • George Conway, another co-founder, said he was taking a leave of absence from the group in August.

Driving the news: Politicology will launch on Feb. 3 as a standalone podcast on the same RSS feed that the Lincoln Project podcast was previously available on, sources tell Axios.

  • It will air twice a week, focusing on the social forces that helped lead to the rise of Trumpism and the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6th.
  • "This is politics without the blinders," Steslow says in a trailer played for Axios. "The storming on the Capitol provided a gut-wrenching reminder that the fight for the soul of our democracy was not over."
  • Steslow says in the trailer that he'll speak with doctors, behavioral economics, demographers, philosophers, anthropologists, historians and poets for the podcast "to broaden our view of what politics is."
  • Steslow is bringing with him some members of his production team, sources tell Axios. Prior to joining The Lincoln Project, Steslow founded Tusk Inc., a political consulting firm.

Catch up quick: The Lincoln Project was founded in late 2019. Its podcast, hosted by Steslow, launched in mid-June of last year and was almost immediately a success. Its popularity helped the group expand its following.

  • As Axios has previously noted, the podcast had consistently been ranked as one of the top podcasts on Apple in news and politics. It saw roughly 1.5 million downloads per month.
  • “The Lincoln Project Podcast 2.0 has spent the past few weeks in production and we will be unveiling new episodes imminently,” a Lincoln Project spokesperson tells Axios.
  • “(W)e view the podcast and our other media verticals such as LPTV as foundational pieces of The Lincoln Project. We’ll also be announcing an expansion of LPTV programming in the coming weeks.“

What's next: Sources say Steslow plans to launch other series, which will require more staffing in the future. The company's website is politicology.com.

  • The podcast will be available on all podcast platforms on the same RSS feed that The Lincoln Project podcast was previously available on. It's unclear what The Lincoln Project's podcast plans are moving forward.
  • When contacted for comment, Steslow said, "The number one question we get from our community of listeners is, 'Where do we go from here?' Exploring answers to that question is precisely the work we are going to do together on Politicology."
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