CNN scored an exclusive interview with the founder of the hard-left 1619 Project, but rather than grill Nikole Hannah-Jones about the gross historical errors from the indoctrination effort, New Day’s Brianna Keilar mostly tossed softballs. She began by blaming Republicans for fighting back against the 1619 Project’s attacks on America: “Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell plunging into the culture wars, calling for the education secretary to abandon curriculum in American schools that McConnell says tells a revisionist history of the country’s founding.”
So it was Mitch McConnell who “plunged” into the culture wars? Not Hannah-Jones and the 1619 Project erroneously claiming slavery was the reason for the American revolution? After reading a quote from McConnell saying, “Americans never decided our children should be taught that our country is inherently evil,” the New Day host tossed this softball: “I know you take issue certainly with that characterization. What is your reaction to this letter?”
Keilar could have pointed out the harsh attack from mainstream historians, such as Pulitzer Prize-winning Grant Wood who in 2019 dismissed, “It still strikes me as amazing why the NY Times would put its authority behind a project that has such weak scholarly support.”
Instead, she praised, “I reread your opening essay and I would encourage anyone to do that whatever side of this debate they are on. If they’re going to be talking about this they really need to read that essay to decide for themselves what the 1619 Project is about.”
Finally, she gently broached the 1619 Project’s hateful tone:
And we hear from so many conservatives they’re feeling — and I think this is something that we should have you address, Nikole. They’re feeling that kids are being taught basically to feel bad about being white or to feel shame in being white. How do you address that?
That’s at least mildly getting to some of the complaints, but Keiler could have pointed out that Hannah-Jones has lashed out at “old, white male historians” who criticize her. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, this came after Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson knocked her “implicit position that there have never been any good white people, thereby ignoring white radicals and even liberals who have supported racial equality.”
But of course, CNN isn’t really interested in a hard-hitting interview with an American-trashing liberal.
The softball propaganda interview on CNN was sponsored by Allstate and AT&T. Click on the links to let them know what you think.
A transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more.
7:48 AM ET
BRIANNA KEILAR: Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell plunging into the culture wars, calling for the education secretary to abandon curriculum in American schools that McConnell says tells a revisionist history of the country’s founding. The top Republican claims that programs such as “The New York Times” 1619 Project, which is on a list of curricula that if a school system uses they may be eligible for federal grants — he said, quote, “…reorient the bipartisan American history and civics education programs away from their intended purposes toward a politicized and divisive agenda.”
Now, the 1619 Project focuses on reframing American history when it comes to slavery and when it comes to the contributions of Black Americans. And joining me is the creator of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah- Jones. She is a staff writer for the “New York Times Magazine” and a 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner. And this is her first interview since Sen. McConnell sent his letter. Nikole, thank you so much. It’s great to see you again. And we really wanted to see what you have to say to this because as you are aware, the minority leader also wrote in his letter to the secretary of education, quote, “Families did not ask for this divisive nonsense. Voters did not vote for it. Americans never decided our children should be taught that our country is inherently evil.” I know you take issue certainly with that characterization. What is your reaction to this letter?
NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES: Absolutely, and thank you for having me on and talking about this. I’d like to kind of reframe the question just a bit because this is fundamentally a free speech issue. If you look at the rhetoric of Sen. McConnell and state legislators all across the country that are trying to get bills passed to prohibit the teaching of the 1619 Project, it’s not about the facts of history. It’s about trying to prohibit the teaching of ideas that they don’t like. So we — you know, I’ve been a little appalled by the silence of free speech advocates as there — these attempts to ban ideas from being taught in schools are being introduced all across the country. But in response to what he’s saying, I — of course, there’s no single line or argument in the 1619 Project that claims that this country is an evil country and it’s, frankly, a ridiculous assertion. If you read my opening essay on democracy in the 1619 Project — in fact, what I say is that despite everything that this country has done to Black Americans, the Black Americans have seen the worst of America and yet still believe in its best. I actually argue that Black people are the greatest democratizing force in this country. So, no, this isn’t a project about trying to teach children that our country is evil, but it is a project trying to teach children the truth about what our country was based upon. And it’s only in really confronting that truth — slavery was foundational to the United States. We, after slavery, experienced 100 years of legalized discrimination against Black Americans and those are simply the facts of our history. What Mitch McConnell and others like him want is for our children to get a propagandistic, nationalistic understanding of history that is not about fact but is about how they would want to pretend that our country is.
KEILAR: Yes. I am — I reread your opening essay and I would encourage anyone to do that whatever side of this debate they are on. If they’re going to be talking about this they really need to read that essay to decide for themselves what the 1619 Project is about. I also want to ask you while I have you here, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dismissed systemic racism in America in response to President Biden’s promise to tackle it during his congressional address the night before. This is — this is what he said. Let’s listen.
[Clip of DeSantis on Fox.]
KEILAR: You know, from what I am seeing is people are talking about systemic racism, they are pointing out — and it is backed by fact — that there are biases in systems that you can’t really argue with. Like criminal justice, whether it is policing or whether it is the court system. So what do you say to someone like Gov. Ron DeSantis who is making this argument? And we hear from so many conservatives they’re feeling — and I think this is something that we should have you address, Nikole. They’re feeling that kids are being taught basically to feel bad about being white or to feel shame in being white. How do you address that?
HANNAH-JONES: Well, one, I would say that I doubt that Rick (sic) DeSantis or most Republicans actually know what critical race theory is. I doubt they have read any actual critical race theory text. Critical race theory has been around for a couple of decades and all of a sudden now it’s all that you hear them talking about. And what could have — because the way that they describe critical race theory is actually not what critical race theory is. There are facts. The fact is Rick (sic) DeSantis is speaking about the lack of systemic racism from a state that was de jure segregated. A Jim Crowe state that had segregation and anti-Black laws all across every county in the state where Black people could not really vote until the Voting Rights Acts, where there were de jure segregated schools, de jure segregated businesses. So to then argue in a state where legal discrimination existed in every aspect of American life until the 1960s that there is no systemic racism is really arguing for a country, again, that has not ever existed. So what we — it’s important to what they’re actually arguing. They are saying we can’t talk about our past because it is shameful. They’re not able to say that this is not the truth of our history, but that we shouldn’t teach children our history because it’s shameful. I don’t think anyone who reads critical race theory has ever seen it say white people should feel bad about being white. It does say that racism is embedded in our institutions and until we acknowledge that, then we will not be able to undo the harm of racism. But none of this — the 1619 Project, critical race theory, anti- racism training — is about making white people feel badly about things that they have not done. That’s just something that politicians are using to really stoke anger because they see this as a — as a winning tool in the culture wars.