The Introduction of Race as a Central Issue in American Politics Can Be Traced to an Aug 2019 Staff Meeting at The NY Times

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Photo Credit: Image by UnratedStudio from Pixabay

Much ink has been spilled about the systemic racism that exists in America. This, of course, became front and center following the death of George Floyd last May. That event, which it turns out was grotesquely misreported, served as the green light for an all-out war against the evil white man who continues to oppress blacks to this day.

It gave license to domestic terrorist groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa to burn and loot American cities without consequence. Contrast the anemic efforts by law enforcement to pursue those responsible for what became billions of dollars of property damage and injury to police officers and civilians, with the FBI’s robust campaign to chase down citizens who attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally. We’ve heard reports of FBI SWAT teams conducting pre-dawn raids, similar to the Roger Stone raid, at the homes of these “dangerous criminals.”

Where the %&$# was the FBI when former President Donald Trump was being targeted for colluding with Russia to win the 2016 election? Oh yeah, they were in on it. They were busy preparing their fraudulent applications to the FISA Court for a warrant and three renewals to spy on members of the Trump campaign. And wracking their brains to find a way to set a perjury trap for Gen. Michael Flynn so they could turn his life into a living hell for the next four years.

The riots that spread like wildfire throughout the U.S. last summer thrust the issue of systemic racism to the fore. In the midst of a pandemic and a deep recession, systemic racism became the most pressing issue of the day. The country needed to find a way – and fast – to atone for the heinous behavior of nineteenth century southern plantation owners even though hundreds of thousands of Americans died fighting a war to abolish slavery.

The mainstream media has been moving away from the practice of journalism for years. With the arrival of candidate Donald Trump, it was abandoned altogether. The media collectively embraced activism. They operate as a unit.

Unlikely as it may sound, the adoption of “race” as a top issue in American discourse was actually a deliberate decision made by The New York Times, which is arguably the most influential newspaper in America.

It happened in August 2019, long before Americans ever heard of George Floyd. The manner of Floyd’s death, as it was represented in the viral video of then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, merely served as a catalyst.

The occasion was a “crisis employee town-hall,” a staff meeting held by The Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet. A recording of his remarks was leaked to and published by Slate. (The full transcript of the meeting, via Slate, is reprinted at the bottom of the page.)

At the time, Trump had just delivered a positive and widely praised speech on two mass shootings that had taken place nearly simultaneously in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The President had denounced racism in the strongest possible terms.

The headline in The Times read, ““TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM.” Following harsh criticism from the left for their positive take on the speech, the newspaper changed its headline to “ASSAILING HATE BUT NOT GUNS.”

The Times’ title change became a huge story, as it should have.

Baquet opened the meeting with a discussion of the “significant missteps” they had made in handling the “crisis.” But, he told employees, “there’s something larger at play here and that was their coverage of Trump.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller had given his disastrous testimony several weeks earlier which pretty much ended the Trump/Russia collusion story they had spent years covering. “We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well,” Baquet said. “Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.”

The story that would dominate the news over the next two years, he said, would be race.

He told his staff:

Race in the next year and I think, to be frank, what I hope you come away from this discussion with – race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story. And I mean, race in terms of not only their relationship with Donald Trump, but Latinos and immigration.

Baquet offered his “vision” of what this meant for them.

I think that we’ve got to change. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier: How do we cover a guy who makes these kinds of remarks? How do we cover the world’s reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that’s become so divided by Donald Trump? How do we grapple with all the stuff you all are talking about? How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven’t done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage. You all are going to have to help us shape that vision. But I think that’s what we’re going to have to do for the rest of the next two years.

So Baquet had two goals. The first was to paint President Trump as a racist. The second goal was to reshape American history putting slavery at the center of the story. This was the introduction of Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 project, for which she has subsequently won a Pulitzer Prize.

The Washington Examiner’s Byron York wrote that The Times hopes to “reframe America’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”

“The basic thrust of the 1619 project is that everything in American history is explained by slavery and race.”

York explains:

The essays go on to cover the economy (“If you want to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation.”), the food we eat (“The sugar that saturates the American diet has a barbaric history as the ‘white gold’ that fueled slavery.”), the nation’s physical health (“Why doesn’t the United States have universal healthcare? The answer begins with policies enacted after the Civil War.”), politics (“America holds onto an undemocratic assumption from its founding: that some people deserve more power than others.”), daily life (“What does a traffic jam in Atlanta have to do with segregation? Quite a lot.”), and much more.

Newt Gingrich appeared on “Fox and Friends” to weigh in on this travesty. He told viewers:

The whole project is a lie. Look, I think slavery is a terrible thing. I think putting slavery in context is important. We still have slavery in places around the world today, so we need to recognize this is an ongoing story. I think certainly if you’re an African-American, slavery is at the center of what you see as the American experience. But for most Americans, most of the time, there were a lot of other things going on. There were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves.

I saw one reference that the New York Times claims that the American Revolution was caused, in part, to defend slavery. That is such historically, factually false nonsense that it is embarrassing the New York Times is doing this.

But, if you saw the recent leaked interview town hall meeting with the New York Times editor, he basically said, look, “We blew it on Russian collusion, now we’re going to go to racism, that’s our new model, the next two years will be Trump and racism.” This is a tragic decline of the New York Times into a propaganda paper worthy of Pravda.

Baquet, in his wildest dreams, couldn’t have envisioned how perfectly his vision would be executed. This is an illustration of the enormous power the major media outlets wield over us. They not only influence events, they shape events.

Just as they perpetuated the Russian collusion hoax, they’ve methodically worked to create the systemic racism hoax.

Of course, the death of George Floyd handed them an extraordinary opportunity which they seized upon and ran with. Additionally, they worked in tandem with the like-minded leaders of Big Tech and the Democratic Party.

Their efforts have inflicted deep wounds upon our once great country.

Liberals writers and politicians will continue to rail against the systemic racism inherent in America.

But it’s not really about race. It’s about power.

 

Full transcript of Dean Baquet’s staff meeting: (Via Slate)

Dean Baquet: If we’re really going to be a transparent newsroom that debates these issues among ourselves and not on Twitter, I figured I should talk to the whole newsroom, and hear from the whole newsroom. We had a couple of significant missteps, and I know you’re concerned about them, and I am, too. But there’s something larger at play here. This is a really hard story, newsrooms haven’t confronted one like this since the 1960s. It got trickier after [inaudible] … went from being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character. We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well. Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story. I’d love your help with that. As Audra Burch said when I talked to her this weekend, this one is a story about what it means to be an American in 2019. It is a story that requires deep investigation into people who peddle hatred, but it is also a story that requires imaginative use of all our muscles to write about race and class in a deeper way than we have in years. In the coming weeks, we’ll be assigning some new people to politics who can offer different ways of looking at the world. We’ll also ask reporters to write more deeply about the country, race, and other divisions. I really want your help in navigating this story.

But I also want to [inaudible] this as a forum to say something about who we are and what we stand for. We are an independent news organization, one of the few remaining. And that means there will be stories and journalism of all kinds that will upset our readers and even some of you. I’m not talking about true errors. In those cases, we should listen, own up to them, admit them, show some humility—but not wallow in them—and move on. What I’m saying is that our readers and some of our staff cheer us when we take on Donald Trump, but they jeer at us when we take on Joe Biden. They sometimes want us to pretend that he was not elected president, but he was elected president. And our job is to figure out why, and how, and to hold the administration to account. If you’re independent, that’s what you do. The same newspaper that this week will publish the 1619 Project, the most ambitious examination of the legacy of slavery ever undertaken in [inaudible] newspaper, to try to understand the forces that led to the election of Donald Trump. And that means trying to understand the segment of America that probably does not read us. The same newspaper that can publish a major story on Fox News, and how some of its commentators purvey anti-immigrant conspiracies, also has to talk to people who think immigration may cost them jobs and who oppose abortion on religious grounds. Being independent also means not editing the New York Times for Twitter, which can be unforgiving and toxic. And actually, as Amanda Cox reminds me, doesn’t really represent the left or the right. [inaudible] who care deeply about the Times and who want us to do better, we should listen to those people. But it is also filled with people who flat out don’t like us or who, as Jack Shafer put it, want us to be something we are not going to be.

By the way, let’s catch our breath before tweeting stupid stuff or stuff that hurts the paper—or treats our own colleagues in a way that we would never treat them in person. It is painful to me personally, and it destabilizes the newsroom when our own staff tweets things they could never write in our own pages or when we attack each other on Twitter. But let me end where I began: This is hard stuff. We’re covering a president who lies and says outlandish things. It should summon all of our resources and call upon all of our efforts to build a newsroom where diversity and open discussion is valued. We will make mistakes, and we will talk about them openly. We’ll do things that cause us to disagree with each other, but hopefully we’ll talk about them openly and wrestle with them. I want your help figuring out how to cover this world. I want the input—I need it. So now I’m going to open the floor to questions.

Staffer: Could you explain your decision not to more regularly use the word racist in reference to the president’s actions?

Baquet: Yeah, I’m actually almost practiced at this one now. Look, my own view is that the best way to capture a remark, like the kinds of remarks the president makes, is to use them, to lay it out in perspective. That is much more powerful than the use of a word.

The weekend when some news organizations used the word racist, and I chose not to, we ran what I think is the most powerful story anybody ran that weekend. [inaudible] [chief White House correspondent] Peter Baker, who stepped back and took Trump’s remarks, looked at his whole history of using remarks like that, and I think it was more powerful than any one word. My own view? You quote the remarks. I’m not saying we would never use the word racist. I’m talking about that weekend. You quote the remarks. The most powerful journalism I have ever read, and that I’ve ever witnessed, was when writers actually just described what they heard and put them in some perspective. I just think that’s more powerful.

Staffer: But what is [inaudible] the use of a very clear word most people [inaudible]?

Baquet: I think that that word it loses its power by the second or third time. I do. I think that these words—can I talk about the use of the word lie for one second?

Staffer: As long as you come back to my original question.

Baquet: I will, I will. I’m not running away from you, you know me.

I used the word lie once during the presidential campaign, used it a couple times after that. And it was pretty clear it was a lie, and we were the first ones to use it. But I fear that if we used it 20 times, 10 times, first, it would lose its power. And secondly, I thought we would find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of deciding which comment by which politician fit the word lie. I feel the same way about the word racist.

I think that a bizarre sort of litmus test has been created: If you don’t use the word racist, you’re not quite capturing what the president said. I’m going to argue that, first off, if you go back and look at what Peter Baker wrote that weekend, it was more powerful than the news organizations that just tossed the word out lightly as the first thing. Secondly, I’m going to ask you to go back and read the most powerful journalism of the civil rights movement. The most powerful journalism of the civil rights movement—for instance Joe Lelyveld’s portrait of Philadelphia, Mississippi, after the murders of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman—were vivid descriptions of what people in Philadelphia, Mississippi, said and how they behaved. The lead of the story described an old white man sitting on his front porch, saying that the town wasn’t racist, saying that everybody lived peacefully in the town. And as he was saying that, a much older black man walked by, and the guy called him “boy.” That is 20 times more powerful, by my lights, than to use the word racist. If the lead of that story had been “Philadelphia, Mississippi, is a racist town,” it would have been true, but it wouldn’t have been as powerful. I don’t expect everybody to agree with me. In fact, some of the people who were in the discussion that weekend don’t agree with me, but that’s how I feel, strongly.

Staffer: Hi. Thank you so much for doing this. I guess I have a two-part question. The first part is: Would it be fair to say that, if [contributing op-ed writer] Roxane Gay hadn’t tweeted out what she tweeted out, that we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now? And if that is true—or, regardless of whether it’s true—I think that something that some people have been wondering is: Do you feel that there is a person in a high position of power who can be as explicitly self-critical of this organization as Roxane Gay has, and is in a position to be, because she’s on the outside? Do you think that we would benefit from that?

Baquet: I know what you’re getting at—this is a roundabout public editor question, right?

Staffer: No, it’s not. It’s just true. I mean, I don’t know if Roxane hadn’t shared those tweets or those emails, whether we’d be having this conversation.

Baquet: Well, all I can say is, long before that happened I was out in the world meeting with groups of people, having one on one discussions with people. Meeting with, like, large groups of people who wanted to talk about using the words. I gave three interviews in one day. I mean, it’s possible, but I guess I think that—maybe I’m kidding myself, and tell me if I am—I guess I think that we have been having self-critical discussions before that. Do you all think we haven’t had enough of them? Let me turn it to you all, to the room.

Staffer: I mean, it doesn’t seem like there’s that much comfort with having certain kinds of discussions. And I think understanding that certain people’s jobs weren’t at risk, and that it was explicitly their job to be critical, is something that some people might relish or appreciate.

Baquet: Well, let me say something I would relish and appreciate. I would relish and appreciate anybody who wants to come to my office. And some of you have—a lot of people have—to tell me when there are things you don’t like about the New York Times. I get the question about having an outside critic, and it’s an interesting one. But to be frank, the best thing we can do is have a newsroom where, if you don’t like something the newsroom is doing, you can come to me and talk about it. I hope some people feel that way. Some people don’t, but I think that’s more important. And I promise you, if anybody wants to come talk to me or members of the masthead about anything involving coverage—and I’ve had 20 conversations in the last two weeks with people who disagree with me about coverage, or disagree with me about using the word racist, who disagree with me about a lot of stuff—we only get through this if we get to the point where we can have those kind of conversations.

Staffer: Hi. You mentioned that there could be situations when we would use the word racist. What is that standard?

Baquet: You know, we actually should have a written standard. I wasn’t expecting two weeks ago—and [associate managing editor for standards] Phil [Corbett] is working with me and the masthead to come up with it. I can think of examples, like, you know, the governor—was it the governor of Virginia with the costume? I mean, it’s hard for me to answer, but yes, I do think there are instances when we would use it. It’s hard for me to articulate an example of it.

A.G. Sulzberger: So I’m no longer in the newsroom, but Dean tends to bring me in on some of these conversations. And I think it’s useful sometimes to show the journey a little bit of how we reach these decisions. Because otherwise it can feel a little bit like this is a single case in which we’re deciding whether something is or is not racist. The conversation that I heard was really a conversation about labels and about whether we’re going to use labels as shorthand for something that we can convey through words and actions and with greater color and detail. And the moment that, for me, really hammered home the risk of some of these labels was actually when someone passed along to me a headline that we had run six months before the “Trump Makes Comments Condemned as Racist” headline. And the headline we had used six months before was, “Omar Makes Comments Condemned as Anti-Semitic.” And the amount of pushback that that I and others received in that moment from leaders in the Jewish community was really considerable. People wanted us to call this phrase, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” an anti-Semitic phrase. They pointed out that this is actually an historically anti-Semitic trope. Though that it was an anti-Semitic trope was actually referred to in the body of the story, which I pointed out.

But we’re really cautious with labels, because labels tend to slip. They tend to stick to each other. And I think that the conversation I heard Dean and other members of the leadership have was about whether or not those types of shortcuts actually end up doing the exact thing that we don’t want, which is keep people from reading, would keep people from actually understanding, by giving folks who are inclined to be skeptical that that label is fairly applied—whether it’s anti-Semitic or racist or anything else—to keep those people from having an easy out not to look at what actually just occurred, and what happened, and what the implications are, and what the effects are on the community. And I think this is a really tricky moment right now. You know, someone did a study of Twitter shares that showed that 70 percent of all stories shared on Twitter were never opened. And to me, that’s just a reminder that so much of the world is judging before they’re actually engaging. And I don’t think any of us would defend the headline from last week. Not only would you not defend it, we changed it. But I do think that if you take a step further back, and you look at the entire front page, or the entire body of coverage, I actually think that you saw in unmistakable clarity all the themes that we rightfully should be addressing. I just wanted to say that.

Staffer: I wanted to ask about the Atlantic interview from last week, where you were talking about how the headline happened, and you said that the copy editors had written [inaudible] I believe that was a slip of the tongue. I do. But I think it raises important issues, because the copy desk was in fact [inaudible] frequently flagged things like this. It was the place that wrote a lot of headlines. I can recall, personally, numerous times on the copy desk when I and my fellow copy editors flagged and got changed problematic headlines or phrasings before they went into print. And I’m just wondering if there has been any discussion of the extent to which streamlined editing system increases the risk of errors like this.

Baquet: I don’t think this one was the streamlined editing system. I mean we are having conversations about the streamlined editing system and whether some desks need more help, but I don’t think that’s what happened here.

Staffer: I’m not talking specifically about, you know, was this headline attributable to it. I’m talking about, in general, there are fewer eyes on stories and the copy editors would normally have been—

Baquet: I know. I honestly don’t think there are fewer eyes on that kind of story. There were a lot of eyes on that particular story. The eyes didn’t come in all at the right time. I know. I get what you’re saying. I don’t think this was a copy desk issue. I really don’t.

Staffer: To come back to the discussion of the word racist for a second, I’m sensitive to how charged a word it is. I’m sensitive to not using labels. But I was struck a couple of years ago. I went to Little Rock for the 60th anniversary of Central High School. And I went back and I reread Homer Bigart’s story, you know, the day it happened, and it was a triple banner headline across the front page. And Homer Bigart, who was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, his lead was, “An impressive array of federal force cowed racist agitators outside Central High School.” And I was thinking, wow, that’s blunt, it’s powerful, it’s simple, it’s direct. And I was thinking, I wonder if that would ever be the way we would do it today.

Baquet: Oh, sure. The scene he described is—I mean, I’ve actually read this, I’ve gone back and looked at those stories. I don’t think anybody would avoid using the “racist” in a scene like that. It was only Charlottesville times 100, in a historic moment. I think that headline would appear in the New York Times. And I can say, because—.

Staffer: The flipside that I worked out—

Baquet: But I think you’d also… In a weird way, I would argue that proves my point. That was such a powerful moment in American history. It still resonates in American history. It was such a powerful scene of the American South at that moment, that in that instance, to have not used the word would have been weak. And I think, to me, I would argue that that proves my point.

Staffer: But the part that got me a little bit worried about is, if you compare it to how we would cover Charlottesville, which is different, sometimes we use these other words that sound like euphemisms or like—

Baquet: Agree.

Staffer: —you know, “white nationalists who are racially tinged” or we use things that seem to normalize and clean up and sanitize an ugly reality.

Baquet: Yeah, I hate racially tinged, racially charged, too. I think those are worse. If you’re going to do what I said, if you’re gonna put your money where your mouth is and actually just describe it, you shouldn’t use sort of half-assed words like racially charged or racially tinged either. You should either say it when the moment comes or you should describe the scene. I agree with that.

Staffer: Hello, I have another question about racism. I’m wondering to what extent you think that the fact of racism and white supremacy being sort of the foundation of this country should play into our reporting. Just because it feels to me like it should be a starting point, you know? Like these conversations about what is racist, what isn’t racist. I just feel like racism is in everything. It should be considered in our science reporting, in our culture reporting, in our national reporting. And so, to me, it’s less about the individual instances of racism, and sort of how we’re thinking about racism and white supremacy as the foundation of all of the systems in the country. And I think particularly as we are launching a 1619 Project, I feel like that’s going to open us up to even more criticism from people who are like, “OK, well you’re saying this, and you’re producing this big project about this. But are you guys actually considering this in your daily reporting?”

Baquet: You know, it’s interesting, the argument you just made, to go back to the use of the word racist. I didn’t agree with all of this from Keith Woods, who I know from New Orleans and who’s the ombudsman for NPR. He wrote a piece about why he wouldn’t have used the word racist, and his argument, which is pretty provocative, boils down to this: Pretty much everything is racist. His view is that a huge percentage of American conversation is racist, so why isolate this one comment from Donald Trump? His argument is that he could cite things that people say in their everyday lives that we don’t characterize that way, which is always interesting. You know, I don’t know how to answer that, other than I do think that that race has always played a huge part in the American story.

And I do think that race and understanding of race should be a part of how we cover the American story. Sometimes news organizations sort of forget that in the moment. But of course it should be. I mean, one reason we all signed off on the 1619 Project and made it so ambitious and expansive was to teach our readers to think a little bit more like that. Race in the next year—and I think this is, to be frank, what I would hope you come away from this discussion with—race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story. And I mean, race in terms of not only African Americans and their relationship with Donald Trump, but Latinos and immigration. And I think that one of the things I would love to come out of this with is for people to feel very comfortable coming to me and saying, here’s how I would like you to consider telling that story. Because the reason you have a diverse newsroom, to be frank, is so that you can have people pull together to try to tell that story. I think that’s the closest answer I can come.

Staffer: Yeah, I want to follow up and disentangle a couple of things that I’ve often seen conflated in these meetings. You have questions like “should we call Donald Trump a racist” and these broader discussions of our coverage getting flattened with the reason that I think we’re here today, which is really narrowly the question of how we present the work that we do and the headlines that end up on our work. Because this is sort of the thing that a lot of us who are, in some capacity, public representatives of the Times feel ourselves called to answer for. Because there are these patterns of getting headlines wrong in a very specific way that recur repeatedly and in a way that makes me think that it’s a process issue. And to me, the question of whether you put a phrase like “racial fires” in a headline is not actually about whether we think it’s OK to call Donald Trump racist. It’s whether we think it’s OK to use euphemisms instead of direct, clear speech in a headline. Which I think is a question you would ask of any administration.

And the issue with last week’s headline was not really about Trump per se. It was really more broadly about what kind of credulousness we want to reflect in terms of an administration—any administration. Or about other cases where we’re sort of shying away from the real content of the story to put a milder spin on it in the headline, which is sometimes actively misleading. And the process by which these headlines end up on stories is often kind of opaque, and it’s not always clear whether we’re taking on board the criticism that I think is very valid of a lot of these headlines. It is a real storyline about the Times out there now, that we are kind of repeatedly making mistakes that other people aren’t making so much. And it is something that’s kind of baffling to me from where I sit, and I guess I’m curious what is our process? How are we thinking about it? Do we perceive ourselves making the same errors repeatedly, or do we see these as sort of isolated episodes?

Baquet: I’m going to be really honest. I actually don’t think we make a whole lot more mistakes. I think I’ve made clear I’m going to own up to my mistakes. I don’t think we make a whole lot more mistakes than the Washington Post or anywhere else. After the headline issue came up, I think I heard from 10 executive editors, pretty much every major news organization. My favorite one was from somebody—I guess I shouldn’t use their names—was somebody who said, “I wish people cared about my headlines as much as they care about yours.”

Look, we are scrutinized. I ran another newspaper. I’ve never seen anything like this. We are scrutinized more than any other news organization in the country, in the world probably. To be frank, some of that comes with being the biggest and, I would argue, the best. And as hard as it is to do this, I think we have to accept it. We have to accept that maybe what goes along with being the New York Times is that we get scrutinized more. Maybe we should even say we deserve it more. You know? That’s the position I’m going to take. I mean, it’s almost funny when I read all of the attacks on the New York Times for not having a public editor. Nobody has a public editor! We’re not the only ones that made the decision to not have a public editor.

My main point is, yeah, we do get beat up more. And I think we just have to own up to [inaudible] in the process. Should I, do you want me to walk through what happened in this headline again, or is that—

Staffer: I would like to know. I mean I think in this specific case that’s now been made public. But in general, kind of, how does this happen?

Baquet: I mean, I think that if I had to (and I will) engage in a little bit of self-criticism, I made a decision. So we’re talking about print headlines here for a second. I made a decision that I still think was the right decision for the New York Times. We’re not just a print newspaper anymore. We have a television show. We have a podcast. We have a daily website that reaches tens of millions people. I thought that the days when the executive editor sat and sort of picked the stories, fly spec-ed the headlines … I just thought that that was sending the wrong signal to the room. What does that say to our video team if executive editor only cares about the print front page? I also, by the way, assembled a remarkable group of people who worry over the print front page. I’m going to also say that nobody puts out a print front page like the New York Times. Don’t let getting whacked the last couple of weeks make you forget that. But I think I should probably spend a little more time thinking about it. You know, again, I’ve said half of the big decisions I’ve had to make as executive editor I’ve made in my bathrobe at home.

You know, I didn’t look closely enough at it. I should make sure that the front page of the New York Times, which is still our glory, gets more scrutiny than it does, and we should all look at it. In this case, I’ve said it before, I think the layout boxed in the print hub in a way that probably made it impossible to put a great headline on it. But I think I should probably spend a little more stewing on the front page. Does that answer your question?

Staffer: Kind of. I mean, I think—

Baquet: Push! Push, man. They’ve never been shy.

Staffer: I do think, I mean, I guess I see it as not a matter of like getting beat up over the past couple weeks. I feel like there’s a sort of weariness with the share of the criticism directed towards us that is about the headlines that detracts from the discussion that we’d like to be having about the actual [inaudible].

Baquet: I agree, but I’m going to say one thing. And then [associate managing editor and Metro editor] Cliff [Levy] wants to say something. We let it distract us, if you don’t mind my saying. You know, there’s a little bit of … there are HR people in the room? There’s a little bit of a wallowing gene in the New York Times. Look, I don’t think any executive editor has owned up to more mistakes than I have. I don’t know if that means I’ve made more mistakes. Maybe it does. Or if it means I just believe in transparently owning up to your mistakes. But the last few months of the New York Times, we have produced some remarkable reports. Before I came in here, somebody from the national desk sent me a note pointing out just how amazing our coverage of El Paso was and how much it happened to have been driven by Latino reporters who felt powerfully about that story and wanted to surface it. We’ve got to move away from the position where we want to just beat ourselves up and not think about that stuff a little bit, too.

Cliff wanted to say something.

Cliff Levy: I just want to kind of delicately push back a little bit on this question of headlines. Headlines are very, very hard, as you well know. I spent a lot of time thinking about headlines. My colleagues on Metro might tell you that I’m kind of obsessed with them in an unhealthy way. A lot of the pushback that we often receive about headlines, particularly on social media is from people who have never written a headline, don’t have an understanding of how hard it is, the burdens on a headline. Particularly the burdens on a headline in print space where you are really limited. But the burden’s in digital, as well. We are limited by length and SEO and all these other factors. People who criticize our headlines—particularly people who are not in this newsroom—you’ll say to them, “Well, what would you want this headline to be?” And they repeat back something to you that’s like 15 lines or 15 words. You know, people want headlines that blitz out any nuance. They want headlines that say, “Donald Trump Is a Racist,” or “Donald Trump Is a Liar” or things that really take out all the texture and fabric of the article itself. And I will just say, you know, they’re extremely hard to do well, and I think in general we do them extremely well. And I think Phil would probably want to add something to that.

Philip Corbett: I did want to push back just a little bit more. Sorry, we’re all pushing back on you. This might not be a widely held view, but I would dispute the idea that when we have made mistakes about headlines in the last months or couple of years that they have always been in the same direction, which I think is how you put it. In other words, that the mistakes you’re seeing are when we’re going, shall we say, too easy on Donald Trump. There certainly have been headlines where I feel like that has been a failing. But I will say, honestly, there have been headlines that many of us have been concerned about or asked to have changed or have had discussion about where I felt the problem was the opposite. Where we were showing what could be read as bias against Trump, and were perhaps going too far in the opposite direction. So this goes to Cliff’s point that headlines are hard to write anyway, and we’re going to get them wrong sometimes. But I would not accept the criticism that the ones we get wrong necessarily show that we’re bending over backwards in one direction, because I’ve definitely seen headlines that I’ve been uncomfortable with that have fallen too far on both sides of the line.

Staffer: So I share the concerns about how coverage can be done aggressively, but not from a default point of view, which can feed into outcomes that repeatedly read to a number of people across the newsroom—and then outside as well—being too cautious or winding up in a zone that fails to accurately represent the situation to the readers. Which is, of course, the mission that we all do believe in. And I have had conversations and exchanges with a number of colleagues in different roles, from different backgrounds across the newsroom in the past week. And one of the things that I’ve brought up—and I know, Dean, you and I have talked about this a bit, too, is that some people, despite your welcoming stance as far as bringing feedback to you, are hesitant to speak up. Or don’t necessarily feel like they can do that safely, or have the standing to do that. Or some may not even have the access to do that. I wondered if it would be OK for me to share some of the feedback that I got that people asked for to be anonymous, but that I thought was thoughtful and could be useful.

Baquet: Sure.

Staffer: OK, so here’s just a selection that I thought was thoughtful.

“Saying something like divisive or racially charged is so euphemistic. Our stylebook would never allow it in other circumstances. I am concerned that the Times is failing to rise to the challenge of a historical moment. What I have heard from top leadership is a conservative approach that I don’t think honors the Times’ powerful history of adversarial journalism. I think that the NYT’s leadership, perhaps in an effort to preserve the institution of the Times, is allowing itself to be boxed in and hamstrung. This obviously applies to the race coverage. The headline represented utter denial, unawareness of what we can all observe with our eyes and ears. It was pure face value. I think this actually ends up doing the opposite of what the leadership claims it does. A headline like that simply amplifies without critique the desired narrative of the most powerful figure in the country. If the Times’ mission is now to take at face value and simply repeat the claims of the powerful, that’s news to me. I’m not sure the Times’ leadership appreciates the damage it does to our reputation and standing when we fail to call things like they are.”

And then this is a question that is more specifically about the process that you are also addressing: “Why are we passing off the biggest, most important part of the stories that we know very well”—this is from a writer—“that we know very well to this strangely anonymized print hub I am often completely unaware of who is even writing the headlines for my stories. Why can’t I or one of the editors who actually worked on the story just write it?”

Staffer: You know, I hurt the print hub in this case because I didn’t think sufficiently about. … We had created a front page, because we had two big stories, one of which had a two-column headline. One had a single line, four-column headline. It was designed with the print hub, but I don’t think I sat and thought about, what can you really say in four words. Right? Now, I do not scrutinize the print hub headlines before it goes to press. I happen to think that many of the people on the print hub are some of our best editors and are extremely talented. The second I saw that headline—I always get the front page that night—I kind of put my head in the hands. And I called in before I knew there was a Twitter storm and said, you know, this is off. We’ve really got to fix this. But I think in some ways, you know, those of us involved that day did a disservice to our colleagues, because it was a very hard thing to write. They were writing it on deadline. And because the headline had seemed fine on the web all day, it didn’t occur to me it would be problematic. But on the web they had a very large banner, and I think one of the things we’ve learned is that, if we’re going to do something that’s a banner, more of us should be involved. But I think I should’ve thought more about, if you have just four words, what can you write? I had been envisioning something like “A Day of Reckoning.”

Staffer: Hi, I actually wanted to raise a different issue, not to stop the discussion about language. About the push for social media and audience engagement, it’s very clear that the direction of the paper and of management is to incentivize and reward more engagement on social media. But then you have the things that get the most traffic on social media or something like people’s Twitter accounts, where it might push them to write inflammatory or stupid or ill-thought-out things. So we’re kind of incentivizing people to get eyes, but that also incentivizes people to say stupid things on social media.

Baquet: You know, other people can jump in here, I’m sort of unconvinced that the tweets that have made me uncomfortable happened because people wanted to get eyes. I mean, I don’t think the tweet that sparked part of this discussion, from an editor in the Washington bureau, was because he wanted to get eyes. I think he just. … We somehow have convinced ourselves that Twitter is not the real world, and that you can say things on Twitter that you wouldn’t be able to say in a newspaper story. And we need to just convince ourselves that that is not true. I mean, others should jump in, but I’m not sure that the tweets that have made me uncomfortable are tweets that were just done to attract attention. But others?

Staffer: I’m wondering what is the overall strategy here for getting us through this administration and the way we cover it. Because I think one of the reasons people have such a problem with a headline like this—or some things that the New York Times reports on—is because they care so much. And they depend on the New York Times. They are depending on us to keep kicking down the doors and getting through, because they need that right now. It’s a very scary time. And when something like this happens, or we have opinion columnists—because people really can’t tell the difference between op-eds and news anymore—but when we have people who post and tweet incendiary things, like Bret Stephens, people don’t understand. I think they get confused as to what we’re trying to do.

Baquet: Yeah.

Staffer: And I’m just wondering, how can we tighten that up?

Baquet: Are you talking about coverage, or are you talking about social media?

Staffer: I’m talking about all of it.

Baquet: OK. I mean, let me go back a little bit for one second to just repeat what I said in my in my short preamble about coverage. Chapter 1 of the story of Donald Trump, not only for our newsroom but, frankly, for our readers, was: Did Donald Trump have untoward relationships with the Russians, and was there obstruction of justice? That was a really hard story, by the way, let’s not forget that. We set ourselves up to cover that story. I’m going to say it. We won two Pulitzer Prizes covering that story. And I think we covered that story better than anybody else.

The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, “Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.” And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?

I think that we’ve got to change. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier: How do we cover a guy who makes these kinds of remarks? How do we cover the world’s reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that’s become so divided by Donald Trump? How do we grapple with all the stuff you all are talking about? How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven’t done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage. You all are going to have to help us shape that vision. But I think that’s what we’re going to have to do for the rest of the next two years.

This is no longer a story where the Washington bureau every week nails some giant story by [Washington correspondent] Mike Schmidt that says that Donald Trump or Don McGahn did this. That will remain part of the story, but this is a different story now. This is a story that’s going to call on different muscles for us. The next few weeks, we’re gonna have to figure out what those muscles are.

In terms of how to keep people from having these discussions on social media, I’m not 100 percent sure. I think we should tighten the rules a little, which always upsets people a little bit. I mean, there were tweets that people at the New York Times retweeted or liked last week that were really painful for this newsroom and for me personally. So I’m gonna keep saying that, and maybe we should talk about the rules, too.

Staffer: It appears to be that the public narrative around the headline is different from the internal narrative that I’ve been hearing. So for example, I know that the copy desk thing was a slip. But I have also heard that someone actually raised concerns about the headline and was overruled. So, I’m just trying to reconcile what I’m hearing from my co-workers internally and what I’m hearing from my other co-workers in the public.

Baquet: I reached out to the person who raised questions about the coverage that day, who works on the print hub, and it’s a little more complicated than that. She was leaving town, and I was leaving town. She thought it was a bad headline, but mainly she thought that particular story shouldn’t led the paper. Her complaint was different than the narrative that has developed, which is that one person on the print hub threw their body in front of the headline. In my exchanges with her, that wasn’t the case. She thought that that story should not have led the paper. And she thought the headline was bad, but mainly she thought the whole package, the whole architecture—but mainly the story—is what was wrong. And I told her frankly, in my exchange with her, which was good and helpful, I said look I disagree with you on this one. I’m happy to sit down and talk to you in person. I thought that was the right lead of the paper. I would not have minded, by the way, if she’d wandered into my office, knocked on the door, which I told her and which I will keep telling her when I talk to her in person. If she had come in and said, I think you picked the wrong lead of the paper, that’s a little bit of a different narrative from the headline narratives. That make sense?

Staffer: Hi. I just kind of wanted to return to the internal debate before the headline went to print. Do you think there was a breakdown there other than space pressure or time pressure? And if so, I wonder what you think that that breakdown was?

Baquet: Again, I had this exchange with an editor as she was going away and I was going away. I’m not sure that was a breakdown. I think the breakdown was that we drew a page that was really, really, really hard to put a thoughtful headline on. This was a really complicated story. It was not a story that said, Trump said X. In fact, what was wrong with the story is that the “Trump said X” headline wasn’t enough to capture the hypocrisy and all the kind of nuance we’re talking about. So I think we built a page on deadline that made it really hard to put a headline on it. So we set it up for a bad headline, and the people who were in a position to judge it quickly and change it, like me, did not look at it until too late. So I guess this is a system breakdown. We didn’t have a system in place where the people who would recognize it and then change it—And maybe, by the way, the right change—if you want me to tell you—the perfect scenario for this headline would have been like this: The print hub—I’m not blaming the print hub, I’m blaming me, because I set up this system—the print hub comes in and says, “We tried, we cannot put a headline on that story with this layout. You need to redraw the page.” We would have redrawn the page in a way that allowed us to put a more nuanced headline on it. That would have been, in retrospect, the ideal situation.

Staffer: But the editors were looking at it, do you have the impression that they felt that that was necessary, or there was a recognition that there was a problem?

Baquet: I should ask [associate masthead editor] Tom [Jolly] and others on the print hub. I mean, there was a recognition among the masthead when it got sent around. As soon as the mockup of the front page got passed around, I looked at it. Matt looked at it. Everybody looked at and said, “Oh shit.” The first edition had already closed, so that was a system breakdown. Does that answer it? I’m trying to walk you through the process a little bit. Go ahead.

Staffer: It just seems like the people who could have recognized that, perhaps, did not or were not on the team to look at the first edition.

Baquet: Tom, do you have a thought about that? Tom runs the print hub.

Tom Jolly: Well, I think, a) the problem was that the editor felt like that difficult headline had to tie directly into the lead story. If we had made it a broader headline that addressed the package of four different stories, “the day of reckoning” or something along those lines, it would have solved it. In terms of a system problem, print hub had a meeting Thursday, and one of the things that we’ve realized is, we need to be looking at the front page. First of all, we need to be talking to the editors who are going to be writing the headlines that come in in late afternoon. They’re not a part of the discussion during the day. We need to talk to them, give them a sense of what the storyline is. And then we need to review the page before it comes out. One of the problems here was that the page was already published, and that page goes to half of our print readers. So at that point, there was no bringing it back. Right? So yes we’ve addressed system issues that we’ve identified, and I’ve also talked with the editor from the stories going around. And she doesn’t feel that she was rebuffed. Obviously, we would never want that to happen. And I think as Dean explained that was a little bit of a bigger issue. But I think the biggest thing is discussing the storyline at a time in the late afternoon or early evening when the editors who are just coming in have an opportunity to think it out one more time.

Baquet: Can I say something in support of the print hub? Because just for the record, I’m not sure I love this narrative of these sort of anonymous editors you know sitting on another floor fucking up the New York Times. The print hub builds the front page of the New York Times every day. Pick up today’s front page. It is it is a thing of beauty. They do it every day. They’re not some anonymous nobodies. They’re fine journalists, assembled from across the newsroom, assembled from other news organizations. The original sin, I can say since I’m a Catholic and a former altar boy, the original sin was ours. Was setting up a front page that was really, really difficult to build a headline around. But don’t, do not… Go visit the print hub. I mean these are journalists just like us. I talked to the editor who wrote the headline. He’s sick, you know. I mean he feels terrible. He feels more terrible than he should, to be frank. But it feels terrible, and I don’t want to walk away from this with all of us thinking that they’re a group of fumble fingers on another floor of the New York Times secretly fucking up the New York Times. They’re not.

One more.

Staffer: When it came to actually changing that headline, how much influence did the reader input have? I mean, OK, all you guys didn’t like it. You were unhappy. But was a change in the works, or was it the response?

Baquet: We were all—it was a fucking mess—we were all over the headline. Me. Matt. The print hub. Probably [assistant managing editor] Alison [Mitchell]. We were all over it, and then in the middle of it, [deputy managing editor] Rebecca Blumenstein sent an email—but we were already messing with it —saying, “You should know, there’s a social media firestorm over the headline.” My reaction [inaudible] was not polite. My reaction was to essentially say, “Fuck ’em, we’re already working on it.” And we were working on it, on deadline. We had already lost half of the papers, and it was too late to redraw the whole page. We would’ve lost the whole thing.

Baquet: Can I just say one thing? This is a hard story. This is larger than the headline. This is larger than the other stuff. This is a really hard story. This is a story that’s going to call on like all of our muscles, all of our resources, all of our creativity, all of our empathy. Including all of our empathy for each other. It’s going to call on us to be maybe a little less harsh with each other, because we’re gonna make other mistakes. It’s going to call on us to listen to each other more, including me listening to you all more. If you ask me how we end up getting through this with the best coverage, it’s by having honest conversations. It’s by inviting people into the Trump story who ordinarily might not have played on stories like this and making sure they get to participate in the coverage. But I hope this is a start, and I hope people take me at my word when I say you may come into me and tell me something you don’t like. I may not agree with you. I will be direct, and I will say I don’t agree with you. But I promise you I will listen and I promise you that in the end all of this influences the coverage. So thank you. Thank you.

Victor Davis Hanson: ‘We have become an absurd society obsessed with race’

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Victor Davis Hanson is a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is a military historian, a columnist, a former classics professor, and one of the smartest conservative commentators ever.

In his latest column at American Greatness, he asks if America is (hopefully, finally) hitting woke herd immunity as two recent polls suggest. He begins:

Two recent polls suggest wokism is beginning to recede on a variety of fronts, from less trust in Black Lives Matter and more confidence in the police, to suspicion that the Capitol “insurrection” account is being used to unfairly suppress political expression while Antifa, increasingly, is seen as a terrorist organization whose violence has been ignored improperly by authorities.

There are tens of millions of Americans who either have been stung, or turned off by McCarthyite wokeness (and thus have anti-wokeness antibodies). More have been vaccinated from its latest virulent strains by their own values of judging people as individuals, not as racial or gender collectives. So lots of Americans have developed peremptory defenses against it. The result is that daily there are ever-fewer who are susceptible to the woke pandemic. And it will thus begin to fade out—even as the virus desperately seeks to mutate and go after more institutions.

Peak wokeness is nearing also because if it continued in its present incarnation, then the United States as we know it would cease to exist—in the sense that 1692-93 Salem or 1793-94 Paris could not have continued apace without destroying society. Woke leftism exists to destroy and tear down, not to unite and build. It is not designed to play down and heal racial differences, but to accentuate and capitalize on them.

Dr. Hanson says “the shark was jumped” with last week’s cancellation of Dr. Seuss books.

But what are to be the new standards of Trotskyization as we go forth? Can the Governor of New York be excused for months of policies that led to nearly 15,000 unnecessary deaths, but not for inappropriate kisses and touching of women? Or will he, as an Emmy-winning woke official, be exempt from punishment for both types of transgressions?

There are no logical standards that dictate who is and who is not canceled. For now, all we know about the rules of wokeness is that living leftists are mostly not canceled by the woke mob for the thought crimes that ruin both the non-Left or the generic dead.

There is a price to be paid for “wokeness.”

Wokeness is siphoning off billions of dollars from a productive economy through a sort of value-subtracted tax. We are spending a great deal of labor and capital for merit to be replaced in college admissions, in hiring, in grants, in publication, in the selections of awards, and in movies and videos, in everything—as racial, ethnic, and sexual identity considerations replace meritocratic, literary, artistic, and technological criteria, rather than just augment, them.

Americans also are investing lots of capital in preempting wokeness—writing/saying/acting in ways that are not productive, but simply defensive. Diversity oaths, and diversity applications, pledges, and statements take some time to read and digest. It will not be long before insurers will sell “woke insurance,” the premiums adjusted upward for those more conservative and of the wrong genealogy. It won’t be long before we all carry cards certifying that “At no time, did I say, hear, or think anything . . . .”

Our economy will soon mimic the totalitarian ones of old. Our commissars are like those of the old Red Army—ordering Soviet commanders’ counter-offensives during the Great Patriotic War to ensure that tank battalions were advancing ideologically correctly rather than just tactically or strategically soundly.

If that sounds overly dramatic to some, Dr. Hanson reminds us that at the height of the riots last May and June, then-President Donald Trump considered bringing in federal troops to maintain order. It was then that “280 former generals, admirals, and national security officials signed a letter warning that if Trump” were to do so, “he should be considered a dictatorial threat.” The letter read, “There is no role for the U.S. military in dealing with American citizens exercising their constitutional right to free speech, however uncomfortable that speech may be for some.”

Yet when Democrats insisted on bringing in 25,000 National Guard troops after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, this “group remained mute.”

No society can long exist if it believes that its own founding principles, its customs and traditions, its very origins are evil and must be erased. Tearing down statues of Abraham Lincoln, and redefining 1776 and 1787 as 1619, are many things, but one thing they are not is coherent. Trump was considered nutty when he warned that the statue topplers would go from Confederate monuments to Washington and Jefferson—and then when they did just that he was further ridiculed for being prescient.

Who were the long-dead men who devised a system whose natural and eventual fruition is what attracts indigenous people from Oaxaca, the destitute from Somalia, or the politically oppressed from Vietnam? If evil white people founded an evil system solely for their own evil purposes, why would anyone nonwhite dare risk his life to eat from the alluring fruit of the inherently long-ago poisoned tree?

If Americans are to accept that their Declaration of Independence and Constitution were frauds, abject falsifications of the real unspoken founding of 1619, then again what is to replace them? Whose statues are to rise, which books are we to be authorized to read, whose science are we to turn to?

“Everyone has feet of some clay,” Dr. Hanson reminds us. “Is there no adultery, or unkind treatment of women or plagiarism in the past of Martin Luther King, Jr? No violence or criminality in the life of Malcolm X? Did Cesar Chavez never send his goons to the border to beat back illegal aliens? Was Margaret Sanger only a sometimes advocate of eugenic abortion? Are the written biographies of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to be freed of anti-Semitism and petty corruption? Is Louis Farrakhan an ecumenical leader in the way FDR was not? Was JFK really our first feminist?”

Are we to look to those who erased our supposedly awful past for guidance?

Is it to be the architect of the 1619 Project? Long ago the ecumenical Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote that “the white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world . . . The descendants of these savage people pump drugs and guns into the Black community, pack Black people into the squalor of segregated urban ghettos and continue to be bloodsuckers in our community.”

Last summer, he points out, “Hannah-Jones bragged that, yes, it would be ‘an honor’ if the summer rioting—700 police officers injured, 40 deaths, and billions in property damages and hundreds—be called henceforth ‘the 1619 riots.'”

She also said, “Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. … Any reasonable person would say we shouldn’t be destroying other people’s property, but these are not reasonable times.” He wondered if the Times considered Hannah-Jones “inflammatory?”

Moreover, he asks how we “ascertain who is and is not white or black or brown?”

Most illiberal societies in the past that tried such stigmatization of race, ethnicity, or religion did not end so well—from the Ottomans and the Third Reich to the former Yugoslavians, Rwandans, and Iraqis. One eighth, one fourth, or one half makes one a person of color—or not color? Shall we seek knowledge of one-drop of tell-tale bloodlines from the archived jurisprudence of the antebellum South?

If Peruvian George Zimmerman had only used his matronymic, and Latinized his first name, then would a Jorge Mesa have become a sympathetic character who lost a fair fight with Trayvon Martin rather than reduced by the New York Times to a strange category of “white Hispanic” hoodlum, with the additional odor of a Germanized patronymic.

Why does class bow to race, since the former seems to trump the latter. If we forget percentages for a moment, and also forget that we are individuals, not anonymous cogs of vast racial wheels, in absolute numbers, there are roughly (in some studies) more poor white people—both those earning incomes below the poverty level and those with no income at all—than all other commensurate poor minorities combined. Were these supposed to be the targets of Barack Obama’s “clingers” remarks, or Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables,” John McCain’s “crazies,” or Joe Biden’s “dregs,” “chumps,” and “Neanderthals”?

Predicating wokism on race is a tricky business, even if one could define and identify race, quantify its role in determining class status, and convince millions that it is moral to judge people by how they look.

Like the Salem witch trials and the McCarthyite hysteria, when wokism fades, we are likely to see its real catalysts revealed. And they will not be found to be misplaced idealism, nor heartfelt desire for a more ecumenical society, but mostly the age-old, narcissistic destructive road to career enhancement, fueled by customary ancient fears, envies, and hatreds.

Story of Smith College Student Shows It’s Time to Call BS on Systemic Racism

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Fox News’ Tucker Carlson devoted the first portion of his Thursday night program to the story of a 19-year-old student at Smith College, an all-female liberal arts school in Northampton, MA. With an endowment of nearly $2 billion and an annual tuition of over $75,000, Smith is a wealthy institution.

Oumou Kanoute is a young black student from New York. Before entering Smith, Kanoute attended boarding school at the prestigious Westminster School in Connecticut.

Kanoute was working the summer program at Smith in July 2018. On July 31, while eating her lunch in a campus building, Kanoute had an encounter she believes was oppressive. A clip of the friendly, brief exchange begins at 2:15 in the video below.

She explains: “So, I’m sitting down minding my damn business and someone calls the cops on me while I’m just chilling. This is why being black in America is scary.”

KANOUTE: Hi.

MAN: How you doing?

KANOUTE: Good, how are you?

MAN: We were wondering why you were here.

KANOUTE: Oh, I was eating lunch. I’m working the summer program, so I was just relaxing on my couch …

MAN: Oh, just taking a break. So you’re with one of the summer programs?

KANOUTE: Yeah, I’m actually a TA …

MAN: So that’s what it was …

KANOUTE: Yeah, I mean, it’s OK. It’s just, like, kind of, stuff like this happens way too often where people just feel, like, threatened.

That night, Carlson reports, Kanoute posted on Facebook that this incident was “proof of vicious racial discrimination.”

She wrote “All I did was be black[sic]. It’s outrageous that some people questioned my being at Smith College and my existence overall as a woman of color.”

Carlson tells the story:

Kanoute then accused a cafeteria worker, a woman called Jackie Blair, of being a racist even though Blair was not involved in the episode. None of this made any sense, yet institution after institution took Kanoute’s side over that of an hourly worker, and they did so immediately. The ACLU claimed that Kanoute had been singled out for “eating while Black.”

The media came to the same conclusion. A few days after the incident, Kanoute appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to explain that she didn’t feel safe at Smith anymore, not even in its art gallery or botanical garden.

KANOUTE: I see the cop walk in with a Smith employee, whom I’ve never seen before, and the man asked me, ‘We were wondering why you’re here.’ … It just still upsets me to just talk about it, because I don’t even feel safe on my own campus and I’m away from home. I’m the first in my family to go to college.

The president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, did not wait for an investigation to find out exactly what had happened. … She suspended the janitor who called campus security the first day, then she launched White accountability seminars to immediately reeducate and browbeat all White employees at Smith. Even as she singled out her colleagues on the basis of their skin color, McCartney declared in a statement that singling people out because of their skin color is wrong, concluding with no evidence whatsoever that that is exactly what happened.

“This painful incident reminds us of the ongoing legacy of racism and bias, in which people of color are targeted while simply going about the business of their ordinary lives,” McCartney wrote.

What happened next is documented at length in a recent New York Times piece. Here’s the short version: Jackie Blair and the other employees falsely accused of racism by the school had their lives completely upended. Kanoute posted Blair’s name, photograph and email address on social media and then called her a “racist.” She also published the name and photograph of a janitor who was not even involved in the episode. People showed up at Blair’s home, threatening her and putting threatening letters in her mailbox.

In the end, an investigation found no evidence of racism in this incident, but Smith effectively ignored the investigation and its results. McCartney announced, that “is impossible to rule out the potential role of implicit racial bias.” In other words, the janitor, the cafeteria worker and the security guard can’t prove they’re not racist, so they probably are implicitly.

McCartney issued no public apology of any kind to the employees she had just slandered or suspended. Neither Kanoute nor the ACLU have apologized, either. They claim the workers targeted Kanoute for her skin color, and they kept claiming that. Consider this remarkable statement from a man called Rahsaan Hall, who is both the racial justice director for the ACLU of Massachusetts and Kanoute’s lawyer:

“It’s troubling that people are more offended by being called racists than by the actual racism in our society. Allegations of being racist, even getting direct mailers in their mailbox, is not on par with the consequences of actual racism.”

In other words, if you’re falsely accused of racism and you don’t like it, that’s evidence you’re racist, especially if you’re a janitor.

You could not find a more perfect distillation of the moment we are living through right now. Kanoute, one of the most privileged people on Earth, is telling us that she is being oppressed by her servants. Yet, rather than laughing her out of the room or sending her for a psych evaluation, all the other privileged people nod in vigorous agreement and start punishing the staff. We’re going to look back at moments like this one in shame.

If you have a few minutes, watch Carlson’s interview with two long-time liberal staffers who found the administration’s handling of this incident to be inappropriate.

If we don’t open up our eyes and call BS on the left’s attempt to declare every white person in America a racist, and every mixed-race encounter oppressive, we will lose our once-great nation which is currently on life support.

The only oxygen Kanoute deserves after so grossly misrepresenting the above incident would be the request for an apology to those whose lives she disrupted.

Blame for the dramatic rise in racial hostilities in the U.S. can be laid at the feet of Democrats.

It all began in 2016 with the left’s feverish campaign to destroy the candidacy and then the presidency of Donald Trump and it continues to this day. It’s poisoned our political discourse and has divided Americans.

They have pushed a series of narratives, some of which have come and gone, usually after they’ve been debunked by diligent Republicans like California Rep. Devin Nunes. Others, such as the perception that Donald Trump is a racist, have persisted. They were all intended to undermine his agenda.

Often, as one narrative fades, a new one emerges to replace it.

None of us can forget special counsel Robert Mueller’s disastrous appearance before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on July 24, 2019, which ended the Democrats’ hopes for impeaching Trump based on Russian collusion. The following day, desperate for anything to tie around the President’s neck, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the repellent Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) injected their venom into the President’s ordinary phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The accumulated effect of their actions has been a gradual diminishment of our once formidable nation.

Although Democrats now control both chambers of Congress and the White House, it’s not enough. It never is for them.

The gaslighting continues. Their latest canard is that all of Trump’s supporters are racist. In fact, we are domestic terrorists who need to be closely monitored.

This brings us to where we’re at today. The worst thing one can be called in today’s America is a “racist.” This label can cost one a job, a business, a platform, or even one’s friends.

Slavery was certainly an atrocity. But no one alive in America today is responsible for it or could have stopped it. It is an unfortunate part of American history that will never be erased. Much of the past is like that.

And frankly, African-Americans don’t have a monopoly on oppression and cruelty. Throughout history, many peoples have been persecuted.

When my grandmother was a child growing up in Romania in the early 1900s, she watched a communist official walk into their home and shoot her father dead.

The people of Romania are not to be blamed or made responsible for the depravity of a long-dead communist thug.

It is ludicrous to me that Kanoute considers the July 2018 encounter to be oppressive. And it’s even more ludicrous that the college’s president would agree with her.

This new standard is weakening the American people and poses an existential threat to the country.

Even French President Emmanuel Macron believes the degree of wokeness has reached dangerous levels in the U.S. and worries it might infiltrate his own country.

According to an op-ed in The New York Times earlier this month, many French “politicians and prominent intellectuals” believe that America’s new woke culture has gone too far and now poses an existential threat to the French republic and identity.

Specifically, they are concerned about the dangerous social theories on “race, gender and post-colonialism”, which they view as forms of separatism.

In an October speech, Macron said the threat to French culture lies in “[c]ertain social science theories entirely imported from the United States.” He is absolutely correct.

I’d like to conclude by saying to those who find racism and oppression to be so unbearable in America, go look for a country that is less racist and offers greater opportunities for minorities.

I don’t think you’ll find it.

NY Times ‘Updates’ Jan. 8 Story About Brian Sicknick’s Cause of Death; What a Difference a Verdict Makes

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Shortly after closing arguments were delivered in former President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial on Friday, The New York Times issued the following “update” to an article originally published on Jan. 8.

UPDATE: New information has emerged regarding the death of the Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick that questions the initial cause of his death provided by officials close to the Capitol Police.

According to American Greatness’ Julie Kelly, The Times’ claimed in their original article that Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick had died from injuries sustained when a pro-Trump rioter “struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher.” This story served to set the left’s narrative that Trump’s Jan. 6 speech, in which he complained about the alleged fraud that had cost him the election, incited an insurrection during which Sicknick had been “murdered.”

The Jan. 8 article read:

[P]ro-Trump rioters attacked that citadel of democracy, overpowered Mr. Sicknick, 42, and struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials. With a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on Thursday evening.

This story accomplished its intended purpose. It was immediately picked up by the rest of the media and blame for the “insurrection” was laid at the feet of our reckless 45th president.

Many Republicans piled on. On Trump’s last full day in office, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a speech on the Senate floor and told colleagues: “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”

The National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, not generally known for hyperbole, wrote a piece entitled “The Trump Impeachment Is Deeply Flawed, but He Deserves Conviction.”

Indeed, I have written a book about impeachment, Faithless Execution, in which I argued that several actions taken by President Obama were impeachable. None of them was as egregious as what President Trump did — and, especially, what he omitted to do — nine days ago.

He also described a course of action in which House impeachment managers could make Sicknick, “who was murdered, the face of impeachment.” McCarthy explained:

An impeachment manager opening the presentation to the Senate could have declared without hesitation: ‘When Officer Sicknick needed a president, Donald Trump was missing in action. When America needed a commander-in-chief to protect the seat of its democracy, Donald Trump wouldn’t be disturbed—he was busy watching television.

The narrative was set, based on a lie invented and propagated by The New York Times.

Four days ago, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough continued to spread the lie. Speaking to a colleague, he said:

You don’t get a mulligan when you kill a cop, Mike. When you abuse police officers, jam police officers’ heads inside a door, and bash police officers’ brains with fire extinguishers, you don’t get a mulligan. Especially if you’re the one responsible for bringing those cop killers up to Capitol Hill.

It’s unbelievable. Not only cop killers, but these people are traitors to the United States of America. They are traitors.

The Times cited “anonymous sources” in their original story. They had no actual evidence to support their shocking claims.

Ken Sicknick, the officer’s brother, told ProPublica, “He texted me last night [Jan. 6] and said, ‘I got pepper-sprayed twice,’ and he was in good shape. Apparently he collapsed in the Capitol and they resuscitated him using CPR.”

Sicknick passed away the following night at 9:30.

In fact, Sicknick’s cause of death is still unknown. Autopsy results have not been made public.

But thanks to that solid reporting by the paper of record, many Americans believe he died of wounds sustained when a pro-Trump insurrectionist bludgeoned him in the head with a fire extinguisher.

I view that as a crime.