New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the controversial 1619 Project, bemoaned to the Associated Press that she had to battle both Republicans and a media “propaganda campaign” against her work.
The 1619 Project, which Hannah-Jones referred to as “a more honest accounting of history,” sought to bring slavery and racism to the forefront of the teaching of U.S. history. Historians have flagged the project for incorrect statements and interpretations, including the idea that the Revolutionary War was fought over slavery.
But the AP, which referred to the 1619 Project as “groundbreaking,” gave Hannah-Jones a platform to push back on that criticism. The journalist suggested that the backlash to her collection of essays, which was later turned into a book, is proof that U.S. democracy is in jeopardy.
“This year, to me, is just reflective of what I’ve always understood about this country,” Hannah-Jones told the AP’s Aaron Morrison. “And that is that steps forward, steps towards racial progress, are always met with an intensive backlash. That we are a society that willfully does not want to deal with the anti-Blackness that is at the core of so many of our institutions and really our society itself.”
The writer accused the mainstream media of colluding with Republicans in a “propaganda campaign” against her project.
“Many in mainstream media got caught up in the Republican propaganda campaign, which tried to conflate the teaching of a more accurate history, the teaching of structural racism, with trying to make white children feel badly about themselves or guilty,” she continued. “And so much of the coverage was driven by that … I hope that there’s going to be some serious examination of the role that we as media played (in) really putting forth and legitimizing what was a propaganda campaign.”
However, news outlets have often given credence to or lauded her and her work over the past several months. ABC’s “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts referred to her as “one of the most dynamic and vocal journalists today” and a “symbol of representation, of strength and truth.” Hannah-Jones was similarly praised as a “once-in-a-generation journalist” in a CBS “This Morning” segment, and CNN invited her on for a gushy segment in July in which the hosts and guests rallied around her.
The AP interviewer’s biography raised eyebrows, as it appeared he had a conflict of interest.
“AP Race and Ethnicity writer Aaron Morrison is a member, trainer and mentor for the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, which Hannah-Jones co-founded,” the biography read.
“Just one of the foot soldiers interviewing the general,” RealClearPolitics President Tom Bevan remarked.