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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."

Go deeper

9 mins ago - World

Scoop: Ukraine tells senators post-invasion sanctions are no help

Zelensky. Photo: Johanna Geron/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told U.S. senators visiting Kyiv this week that waiting to impose sanctions on Russia until after an invasion is of no use to Ukraine, according to four sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: The Senate is currently working on a major sanctions package to deter Russia from attacking Ukraine. Democrats and Republicans are united in their support for Ukraine, but divided over whether it would be more effective to sanction Russia now to signal resolve, or hold up the threat of future sanctions to demonstrate the high costs of an invasion.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks has dropped plans to require that U.S. workers get the COVID vaccine or submit to weekly testing, the company announced Tuesday in a memo to employees.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

4 hours ago - World

Netanyahu plea talks enter crunch time

Netanyahu (right) meets with his lawyer ahead of a court hearing last February. Photo: Reuven Casto/Pool/AFP via Getty

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's opposition leader and former prime minister, is negotiating a possible plea deal over the corruption charges against him, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit appears to be toughening his terms.

Why it matters: Mandelblit leaves office on Jan. 31. Negotiations could continue beyond that point, but the next attorney general may be less interested in quickly reaching a deal.