The lead writer of The New York Times’ anti-American “1619 Project” suffered a meltdown last week when a colleague at her paper offered fair criticism of its revisionist and inaccurate account of history.
On Oct. 9, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens published a more than 3,000-word essay outlining the project’s blunders that have led the academics with the National Association of Scholars (NAS) to call on the Pulitzer Prize Board to revoke its award to the project’s chief essayist, Nikole Hannah-Jones.
“Journalists are, most often, in the business of writing the first rough draft of history, not trying to have the last word on it,” Stephens wrote. “We are best when we try to tell truths with a lowercase t, following evidence in directions unseen, not the capital-T truth of a pre-established narrative in which inconvenient facts get discarded. And we’re supposed to report and comment on the political issues of the day, not become the issue itself.”
Under this model, Stephens writes, “for all of its virtues, buzz, spinoffs and a Pulitzer Prize – the 1619 Project has failed.”
At the heart of his criticism is the project’s central thesis to revise the date of America’s “true founding” to the year 1619, when the first African slaves found their way to the colonies (Native American tribes had kept slaves on the continent for centuries by then). Several months after the campaign’s launch, now that it is infecting some 4,500 K-12 classrooms, the legacy newspaper stealth-edited the project to remove the language of its “true founding” to when the “moment [America] began.”
“These were not minor points,” Stephen wrote. “The deleted assertions went to the core of the project’s most controversial goal, ‘to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regards 1619 as our nation’s birth year.”
The criticism sent the architect of the project into a rage, according to the Washington Post, predictably calling the fair-minded critiques of her deceptive scholarship racist.
“Hannah-Jones, though, was livid, and let Kingsbury and Stephens know it in emails ahead of publication,” the Post reported. “One the day the NAS called for the revocation of her Pulitzer, she tweeted that efforts to discredit her work ‘put me in a long tradition of [Black women] who failed to know their places.’ She changed her Twitter bio to ‘slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress’ – a tribute to the trailblazing journalist Ida B. Wells, whom the Times slurred with those same words in 1894.”
The revisionist project, which has attracted sharp scrutiny since its publication last year, has since maintained full editorial support from the newspaper despite major corrections to its essays and leagues of historians debunking its primary claims.
After a group of leading historians objected to the Times’ project’s false information, the magazine’s Editor in Chief Jake Silverstein wrote back that “historical understanding is not fixed.” In other words, the Times doesn’t care what historians with decades of experience think if it counters the religious narrative that critical race theory demands.
Several months later, the Times finally did issue a two-word correction to its lead essay authored by none other than Hannah-Jones clarifying that keeping slavery was only a primary motivation for some of the colonists rather than all of the colonists to seek independence from Great Britain. While it might seem a minor change, it’s actually a significant one provided that the project has been adopted widely into curriculum teaching children the United States was built for the sole purpose to oppress, a key tenet of the left’s critical race theory driving the nation’s 21st century woke revolution.
It’s worth noting this correction was made before the Pulitzer committee awarded Hannah-Jones its prestigious prize based on an essay that the Times admitted was historically inaccurate.
Despite the corrections, the inaccuracies, the controversies, and the criticisms of the project, Dean Baquet, the executive director of the Times, rejected Stephens’ arguments.
“Our readers, and I believe our country, have benefited immensely from the principles, rigorous and groundbreaking journalism of Nikole,” Baquet wrote, celebrating the work of the same writer who said “it would be an honor” for the nation’s explosion of deadly unrest which tore through the cities this summer to be named”the 1619 Riots.”
A note to the NYT newsroom about the 1619 Project from our executive editor, Dean Baquet: "1619 is one of the most important pieces of journalism The Times has produced under my tenure as executive editor. It changed the way the country talked about race and our history." pic.twitter.com/LnwnTgFoG6
— Cliff Levy (@cliffordlevy) October 13, 2020