During a gushing interview with left-wing New York Times staff writer Nikole Hannah-Jones on CNN’s New Day Wednesday morning, co-host John Berman also brought on University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Media Dean Susan King to hail Hannah-Jones as “an important voice in our time and in journalism” and lament that the leftist was leaving UNC. In addition, King pledged to indoctrinate her students with the radical ideas preached by Hannah-Jones.
“I mean, do you think – and this gets into what we’re having, the discussion that some people are having now about what is and isn’t being taught in schools – why do you think that you were so threatening to some people?,” a frustrated Berman asked Hannah-Jones about UNC delaying her tenure as a journalism professor there over serious concerns about her fraudulent 1619 Project being riddled with historical factual errors and blatant falsehoods.
Hannah-Jones feigned ignorance: “I don’t know why people find me so threatening. I’m a journalist. I just produce journalism.” She then launched into a rant claiming she was just a victim of American racism and Republican politics:
Turning to King, Berman sympathized: “How much does this decision hurt with soon-to-be Professor Jones going to Howard [University]?” King swooned: “I think that this is a sad moment for me because I wanted her and this interview just proves why she’s such an important voice in our time and in journalism. But let’s just also celebrate what she’s going to build at Howard University…”
The UNC dean then promised that she and other faculty members would make sure to indoctrinate their students, the next “change generation” of left-wing “journalists,” in honor of Hannah-Jones:
King concluded: “But I won’t give up that fight. I know my faculty won’t give up that fight and we’re united as a campus around the issues that Nikole’s candidacy brought, in a way that I’ve never seen before.”
Hannah-Jones returned the favor by endorsing all of King’s efforts: “Dean King knows how much I admire and respect her….I was so touched and, you know, strengthened by the show of support from the faculty, from the Dean, and from the students….Dean King was not afraid to speak the truth when other leadership at the university went silent…”
The most important priority for the leftist media is to make sure the radical ideology they espouse gets passed on to the next generation of political activists masquerading as journalists.
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7:20 AM ET
JOHN BERMAN: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has declined a tenured teaching position at the University of North Carolina. The Board of Trustees at UNC Chapel Hill initially denied her tenure only to reverse that decision after protests from alumni, faculty, and students. She has now accepted a faculty position at Howard University, a tenured position, and will take on new roles focusing on race and investigative journalism.
Joining me now is New York Times staff writer and creator of the 1619 Project Nikole Hannah-Jones, if I can call you professor or soon-to-be professor, listen, thank you so much for joining us.
I – your statement, something jumped out at me in the statement you released overnight and I want you to explain what you meant by it. You said, “At some point when you have proven yourself and fought your way into institutions that were not built for you, when you have proven you can compete and excel at the highest level, you have to decide that you are done forcing yourself in.” What did you mean by that?
NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES [NEW YORK TIMES]: Well, as I also – first, thank you for having me. But as I also said in the statement, I’ve been trying to prove myself in predominantly white and historically white institutions really my entire life. I started being bused into white schools as part of a voluntary desegregation order in the second grade and I’ve spent my life since then really trying to prove that I was good enough being in spaces that didn’t value necessarily my perspective, my background, the type of work that I wanted to do.
And here I was at my alma mater, you know, having risen up through my profession from a small, weekly newspaper to the New York Times, having done really important work that has been recognized across my field, and yet I was still basically treated as if I was not good enough. That for the night chair to be tenured, which had been a tenured position since the 1980s at the university and that every other professor who also happened to be white before me had been tenured. So, I think this kind of final insult through a career of having to prove myself at institutions that are not diverse, that are not very welcoming to diversity, that I just decided I’m 45 years old. I don’t have anything else to prove. I don’t want to force myself into an institution that doesn’t seem to appreciate what I bring.
BERMAN: Yeah, it struck me as an answer to a question that I know probably arose in many people, “Well, why doesn’t she go to UNC and change the system there?”
HANNAH-JONES: Well, you know, this is the problem is the burden to change systems cannot always be on the people who are being excluded from those systems. The people who created this crisis, this situation at the University of North Carolina, are the people who have the power to change what is happening there.
I didn’t cause this, as you know. I didn’t even make public the fact that they denied me tenure. This is not what I wanted. I have a great love for the University of North Carolina. But we can’t keep placing the burden on minorities, marginalized people, black people to have to stay and fight at organizations and institutions that aren’t going to treat us equally and fairly. That burden has to be on the people in power who have created that injustice in the first place.
BERMAN: Again, that’s what struck me about it, saying, “Look, this is about you. This isn’t about me. This is about you and the decisions that you made.” And I know you really haven’t received a fulsome explanation for what the heck was going on, why you were denied tenure in the first place, but I know you have thoughts on it. I mean, do you think – and this gets into what we’re having, the discussion that some people are having now about what is and isn’t being taught in schools – why do you think that you were so threatening to some people?
HANNAH-JONES: I mean, I think that’s what’s been so distressing about this entire debacle, is not only the tenured denial but the lack of transparency from the administration at the university, the unwillingness to just be truthful about what happened and to let me, as well as the public, know what happened.
I don’t know why people find me so threatening. I’m a journalist. I just produce journalism. But I think that we are clearly in this moment in our country where after, you know, George Floyd and kind of the global reckoning, we started to see some real shifts in the understanding of kind of the structural inequality of racism upon which this country was built.
And I think powerful people have a big investment in maintaining the status quo. They don’t want us to recognize the systemic inequality in our country, because if you recognize it, then you have to fix it. So I’ve just kind of been caught up in this larger concerns about the demographic shifts in our country, about the balance of power in our country, and, you know, trying to really silence me at the university as part of a wave of these anti-1619 Project, anti-critical race theory, anti-history bills that are being passed. And they’re being passed in the same legislatures that are also passing voter suppression laws. So these two things are going hand in hand.
BERMAN: You know, if you will, I want to bring in the dean of UNC School of Journalism and Media who advocated for your tenure there, who wanted you there and tenured, Susan King. Dean, thanks so much for being with us. How much does this decision hurt with soon-to-be Professor Jones going to Howard?
SUSAN KING [DEAN, UNC HUSSMAN SCHOOL OF MEDIA]: Well, first, I have to say one thing.
BERMAN: Go ahead.
KING: Well, let’s just say one thing: Congratulations, Nikole. You are building a whole new center at Howard. You know, I think that this is a sad moment for me because I wanted her and this interview just proves why she’s such an important voice in our time and in journalism. But let’s just also celebrate what she’s going to build at Howard University, a great university. And I’m thankful that all those foundations are supporting you. I just wish you were with me.
But, you know, there’s no doubt that we are at a moment in this country where race again has come to the forefront and journalism is – it doesn’t make friends. Journalism really makes people feel uncomfortable. And I understand that our job as journalists and preparing a whole new generation, a change generation, is to really prepare them to, as we say here, ignite the public conversation. And, boy, has Nikole ignited that public conversation. And we’ll be forever changed here, Nikole, and our faculty are supportive of you greatly and I hope that we will be able to continue to really build a better public university where all students and all of our faculty feel welcomed. And we would have loved to have done it with you, but we don’t want to put the burden on you either.
BERMAN: And, Dean, again, I know you wanted her there, but how did UNC blow this so badly?
KING: On every front. And I don’t totally understand it. I think Nikole and I are still sometimes unsure exactly what happened in every point. But the 1619 Project has been acclaimed and it’s also been criticized, and it raised questions over time. And we tried to meet those questions at every moment.
And I do also want to emphasize that I think we’ve got to celebrate that last week when the board of trustees finally lived up to the responsibility of reviewing her package, they voted in favor. It might have been a split vote but it was in favor of a great journalist, of a great program. And I don’t want to forget that. We didn’t give up as a faculty and as a school. We wanted Nikole here.
But as I think you said so well, Nikole, you know, we wanted you to come here to do great journalism because professors continue to produce great journalism. We wanted you here to really shape a new generation. We couldn’t put the extra burden on you to try to heal everything we need to heal here at the public university.
But I won’t give up that fight. I know my faculty won’t give up that fight and we’re united as a campus around the issues that Nikole’s candidacy brought, in a way that I’ve never seen before. And I hope we can make things better in the next year and find some common ground. It will not be easy, however.
BERMAN: Nikole, your reaction?
HANNAH-JONES: Well, you know, Dean King knows how much I admire and respect her and that’s why it was really important in my statement to make clear that I don’t have animus towards the university. I was so touched and, you know, strengthened by the show of support from the faculty, from the Dean, and from the students. This – you know, unfortunately, they didn’t have the say ultimately over what happened with my tenure and political appointees did.
And in the end, you know, Dean King and I did fight this battle. Dean King was not afraid to speak the truth when other leadership at the university went silent and we were victorious. We did get the vote that I should have received last year in November. And I’ll always be grateful for that and I will continue to support my alma mater, will continue to support the university and the school of journalism.
BERMAN: Dean King, I appreciate you being with us. Soon-to-be Professor Nikole Hannah-Jones, I appreciate you being with us as well. I wish you all the best of luck.
KING: And again, congratulations, Nikole!
HANNAH-JONES: Thank you.