Nikole Hannah-Jones was given yet another opportunity by the media today to smear her critics and avoid taking blame for her historically inaccurate “1619 Project.” On ABC’s Good Morning America Monday, co-anchor Robin Roberts did damage control for the New York Times journalist-activist, praising her as an unfairly maligned messenger of “truth.”
Roberts touted Hannah-Jones’s credibility to set up her softball interview: “We are joined now by one of the most dynamic and vocal journalists today. Nikole Hannah-Jones won the Pulitzer Prize for The 1619 Project for the New York Times Magazine. She's a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, and she is a conversation starter.”
From there, GMA was fixed on repairing the 1619 Project author’s reputation, which began with Hannah-Jones blaming losing her fight for tenure at UNC on racism. That victimhood theme continued while discussing her essay-turned-book.
Roberts praised Hannah-Jones for “addressing” “some constructive criticism from the original book,” by adding endnotes for sourcing. But Roberts didn’t actually present any of those criticisms to viewers, or to Hannah-Jones, to respond. Instead Roberts called Jones a persecuted symbol of “truth”:
People -- there are many people who look at you and they say, you are a symbol of representation, of strength and truth, but you know you have your critics as well. How can we have as a nation, a discussion about race that moves the discussion forward?
Viewers unfamiliar with the journalist would be surprised to learn that this “symbol of truth” didn’t just add more details to her work but fudged facts to favor her ahistorical agenda. Five historians wrote a letter to the Times’ editor objecting to major false claims made by the “1619 Project,” such as its faulty premise that the colonists wanted independence from Britain to preserve slavery.
But Hannah-Jones was allowed instead to condemn her critics as allergic to the truth:
“I think one, you have to begin with the truth. So much of the attacks against The 1619 Project and what we're seeing as laws that are trying to stop the teaching of more accurate histories are because we haven't wanted to confront the truth in this country,” she argued, referring to anti-Critical Race Theory protests from parents at school board meetings.
Roberts did her best to present her guest as a journalist passionate about the truth and telling American history, while her critics were trying to hide history.
ROBERTS: And that’s why you wanted it in schools. You weren't expecting this. When the 1619 Project came out, many schools added it to their curriculum. There were parents and others that objected to that.
ROBERTS: Why is it important for young people in particular to learn about American history?
In reality, Hannah-Jones frequently shows off how little of history she seems to actually know, such as her recent dangerously false claims about the Hiroshima A-bomb. She’s also a professed lover of socialism, and “free and equal” communist Cuba, which calls into question how unbiased she can be in retelling the story of America.
She even admitted here and elsewhere, that her retelling of American history is influenced by today’s narratives on race.
As ABC played images of Black Lives Matter protesters on screen, Hannah-Jones opined, “I think children are -- they are able to understand complex stories and nuanced histories and it is empowering to actually be taught a history that reflects the country that we see.” She added, “[W]hen you look at the world and you see all of the polarization and all of the tension, these narratives we've learned don't explain that, but when you give children that context of American history, it is empowering for them to go out into the world.” So basically, she’s justifying rewriting history to make sense of her own modern, political views.
The sympathetic interview culminated with the ABC anchor worrying about the “toll” put on Hannah- Jones. “Sometimes the messenger is attacked. How have you handled all that?,” Roberts fawned.
If ABC ever took a look at Hannah-Jones’ Twitter account, they’d see just how thin-skinned the journalist is to criticism.
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Read the relevant transcript portions below:
Good Morning America
ROBIN ROBERTS: We are joined now by one of the most dynamic and vocal journalists today. Nikole Hannah-Jones, won the Pulitzer Prize for "The 1619 project” for the New York Times Magazine. She's a Macarthur Genius Grant recipient, and she is a conversation starter. She's now out with a brand new book and it's called "The 1619 project: A new origin story, expanding the original groundbreaking work of journalism.” So good to see you again. How are you doing? Feeling good?
ROBERTS: I cannot wait to talk more about it, but I do want to say this. I want to find out what's going on at Howard right now because a lot of people remember at the beginning of the year, you were originally denied tenure at your Alma mater, North Carolina. You decided to go onto Howard where you are the chair of race and journalism. What did you learn from that experience, and how are things going at Howard?
HANNAH-JONES: Well, what I learned is one, that you can do all of the things that we are told we are to do to be successful, and in the end, as a black woman, you can still be denied, and that we have to take those moments and use those moments to exercise our power, and to say that we'll be in control of our own destiny, and that's what I decided to do with Howard, and I'm just so excited and honored to be there.
ROBERTS: Yes, and I know that you're excited about this book right here. First of all, for folks who are not familiar, tell them about the significance and the importance of the year 1619.
HANNAH JONES: Yes. So 1619 is the year that the first Africans were sold into the British colony of Virginia. So we really mark that as the beginning of African slavery which of course, would last for 250 years in the country that would become the United States, and so it's significant because it's one of the oldest institutions in America, and yet we've often treated it as if it's kind of marginal to the American story, and of course, we argue in the book that slavery and its legacy is central to both our history and the country that we are today.
ROBERTS: And you really expand upon it because you received some constructive criticism from the original book. You addressed that, and added so much more. So what can people expect with this new work?
HANNAH-JONES: Yes. So the new work, all the original essays as you've said, have been expanded. We have end notes now so people can actually see where our - source materials are, and where we got the facts that are in the book, and then there are eight new essays by some of the greatest historians living in the country today covering a wide range of topics, and we have doubled the poetry and fiction that was in the book. There's beautiful archival photography in the book. So I just really hope people will come to it with an open mind, and I think people will be really astounded by all of the things they'll learn from the book, and the way that we connect the book with the society we live in now.
ROBERTS: Yeah as I said, you really expanded it, and there are the sourcing of it so people know where it is. People -- there are many people who look at you and they say, you are a symbol of representation, of strength and truth, but you know you have your critics as well. How can we have as a nation, a discussion about race that moves the discussion forward?
HANNAH JONES: I think one, you have to begin with the truth. So much of the attacks against "The 1619 project" and what we're seeing as laws that are trying to stop the teaching of more accurate histories are because we haven't wanted to confront the truth in this country. The truth is often painful, but it is in confronting that, that we are able to actually heal and move on. So I think people have to come with an open mind. We have to come with vulnerability. We have to come with, I think, really an understanding that we don't know everything that there is to know, and many of us have been taught this history really poorly, and that we're not responsible personally for what happened in the past. But we are responsible for learning about it and learning from it, and trying to do better right now.
ROBERTS: And that’s why you wanted it in schools. You weren't expecting this. When the "The 1619 Project" came out, many schools added it to their curriculum. There were parents and others that objected to that.
ROBERTS: Why is it important for young people in particular to learn about American history?
HANNAH-JONES: Absolutely. I talk about in the preface that I first came across the date 1619 in a black studies elective that I took when I was 16 years old and just having that small window open to this whole world of history that I didn't know changed my whole life, and so I think children are -- they are able to understand complex stories and nuanced histories and it is empowering to actually be taught a history that reflects the country that we see. [BLM protesters shown on screen] So I think that it's so important for young people. I have an 11-year-old daughter.
HANNAH-JONES: She can understand this, and when you look at the world and you see all of the polarization and all of the tension, these narratives we've learned don't explain that, but when you give children that context of American history, it is empowering for them to go out into the world.
ROBERTS: It has taken a toll. Glad you're doing well. Sometimes the messenger is attacked. How have you handled all that?
HANNAH-JONES: Depends on the day. Depends on the day. It's hard to become a symbol. I'm a symbol for people who love me. I'm a symbol for people who hate me, but I'm just a human being. I care deeply about this work. It means a lot to me. So there have been some low moments, but the kind of astounding support for the project lifts me up because I know that so many Americans, they do want a better understanding of our country, and they are open to learning new things.
ROBERTS: And you do give us a better understanding. Nikole, thank you so much. It's great to see you. I want everyone to know "The 1619 Project" the new origin story is out tomorrow, along along with the companion children's book, "Born on the Water." It's up there on our Jumbotron.