Journalists from CBS this morning On Tuesday, they continued their efforts to conceal the historical illiteracy and massive errors of Project 1619. Co-host Gayle King took 10 minutes to enthusiastically speak about lead writer Nikole Hannah-Jones. The New York Times journalist who just turned down a teaching position at the University of North Carolina after a tenure battle.
Appearing exclusively for CBS, King focused on Hannah-Jones’ transfer to Howard University and her rejection of UNC. Regarding Project 1619, the host argued: “Can we say that he has a 20-year career with impeccable credentials? Let’s talk about Project 1619. Because The New York Times issued a clarification, not a correction. They said they supported you. There was a clarification. What was the clarification and what is your response to the criticism?”
Asking the person involved in the buggy project to explain the “clarifications” is sloppy and lazy journalism. The problem with Project 1619 is a problem of fact. Distinguished historians, including Pulitzer Prize winners, pounded out the mistakes. In a 2019 letter to The New York Times, Victoria Bynum, James M. McPherson, James Oakes, Sean Wilentz, and Gordon S. Wood wrote:
We are dismayed by some of the factual errors in the project and the closed process behind it.
These errors, which refer to important events, cannot be described as interpretation or “framing”. They are questions of verifiable fact, which are the foundation of both honest scholarship and honest journalism.
King might have mentioned this, or that Leslie M. Harris, a history professor at Northwestern, He said Times I was aware of historical errors at the time of publication. But of course he did not.
Instead, he allowed Hannah-Jones to offer this highly sanitized version:
The clarification was that we added two words to a statement on the role of slavery in the American Revolution … The original text said that one of the main reasons the colonists decided to separate from the British Empire was to preserve slavery. We add that “one of the main reasons is that some of the settlers decided to separate.” It was a clarification and I think that, you know, in academia and journalism we should clarify.
King’s “exclusive” featured lazy Larry King-style questions with no interest in detail. Regarding the UNC’s decision not to immediately offer tenure to Hannah-Jones, the host vaguely wondered, “Why do you suppose they didn’t offer you tenure right away? What do you think is the reason?
In 2019, King and the other This morning the co-hosts interviewed Hannah-Jones and allowed her to tie everything into bondage. Here’s King: “Look at the sugar we eat. But what caught my attention was medical care, you can link medical care to slavery. ”
A transcript of the questions can be found below. Click “expand” to read more.
CBS this morning
8:12:18 to 8:22:28
10 minutes and 10 seconds
GAYLE KING: We reported how the trustees of the University of North Carolina agreed to offer a position to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones after weeks of controversy. She is here with us for her first interview since the offer was approved. It was approved last week, Wednesday July 1st. Nikole Hannah-Jones we welcome you to CBS this morning.
NIKOLE HANNAH JONES: Thank you very much.
GAYLE KING: What have you decided to do? The vote was 9 to 4 and he was offered the position.
What have you decided?
HANNAH-JONES: I decided to reject the tenure offer. I will not teach at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill faculty. Very difficult decision. It is not a decision you want to make. Instead, I will be the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University.
KING: So many things to unpack there. First, let’s start with its decline in tenure. The vote was 9 to 4. Clearly in your favor. There are some people who say, “You said you didn’t take the job that they offer you tenure and they offer you tenure and you are still saying, ‘Thank you, but no.’ Why?
HANNAH-JONES: Of course. Because look what it took to get the title. This was a position that from the 1980s came with the incumbent. Knight chairs are designed for professional journalists working in the field to enter academia. All the other chairs before me that turned out to be white received that position with title.
KING: It had never been denied. Has no one been denied possession before?
HANNAH-JONES: No. Exactly. I went through the tenure process and received unanimous approval from the faculty to be granted tenure. And so, to be denied that, for that vote to happen on the last possible day after the threat of legal action, after weeks of protest, after it became a national scandal, is no longer something I want.
KING: Because there were two possibilities, it seems to me they could have voted for the incumbent, in November. Then he heard that the tenure offer was being withdrawn. Did someone explain why they were removing it?
KING: Now at one point, I think there was an offer that you could work there, you could teach for five years and then they would reconsider tenure and it seems that at one point you had accepted that offer, right?
HANNAH-JONES: I did.
KING: Did you decide to do that? And what made you change your mind?
KING: Why do you think they didn’t offer you custody right away? What do you think is the reason?
HANNAH-JONES: I mean, what’s been reported is that there was a lot of political interference from conservatives who don’t like the work I’ve done, particularly Project 1619, and also from the powerful donor who gave the largest donation in the 70-year history of the school of journalism. So it is quite clear that my mandate was not assumed by political opposition due to discriminatory points of view against my point of view and I believe my race and my gender.
KING: Let’s talk about it. Should News Block be part of this process?
KING: It seems to get very, very political.
KING: Can we say that you have a 20-year career with impeccable credentials? Let’s talk about Project 1619. Because The New York Times issued a clarification, not a correction. They said they supported you. There was a clarification. What was the clarification and what is your response to the criticism?
HANNAH-JONES: Sure. So the clarification was that we added two words to a statement on the role of slavery in the American revolution.
KING: What were the two words?
HANNAH-JONES: Right. The original text said that one of the main reasons why the colonists decided to separate from the British Empire was to preserve slavery. We add that “one of the main reasons is that some of the settlers decided to separate.” It was a clarification and I think that, you know, in academia and journalism we should clarify. That has never been seen as making a project illegitimate because you try to strengthen and clarify your argument.
KING: You have published an eight-page statement. I encourage people to read the statement. There are eight pages where it really explains exactly what happened. I want people to understand that he had offers from a lot of colleges after this started coming up with North Carolina. Lots of people came up to him and said, please come here, including Howard. Why did you decide it would be Howard? I ask that question because some would say, look, “Howard already understands this. Would you be more effective working for, for example, a predominantly white university that might need to understand the work you do?
KING: Are there other reasons, and they never gave you reasons, are there other reasons you might think about besides Project 1619 or that this would turn into a controversy?
KING: Had you told North Carolina your decision before joining us today? We always like an exclusive, but have you informed them that this was a decision you were going to make?
KING: What is the personal toll this has caused you? You’ve been a fan of Tar Heels since you were little. Come on, I know you’re supposed to say that when you talk about North Carolina. You have been a fan for a long time. What has this meant to you personally? How has this affected you personally?
KING: How do you feel going to Howard? I know at Howard I imagine they are doing the hula that they have Nikole Hannah-Jones on their staff.
KING: I think we will congratulate you, Nicole Hannah-Jones, and we will receive a statement from the University of North Carolina. Thank you very much for telling us this morning.