Journalist Behind '1619 Project' Hit with Bad News as Cushy Tenure Offer Goes Up in Smoke, University Reveals She'll Have to Earn the Position Instead


In her wildest dreams, The New York Times Magazine’s Nikole Hannah-Jones couldn’t have imagined the monumental impact her 1619 Project essay — a warped, dishonest revision of American history — would have on race relations in the U.S.

Of course, the fact that it was the opening salvo of The Times’ editor Dean Baquet’s meticulously orchestrated master plan to put a Democrat in the White House the following year helped.

The idea that most conservatives found so duplicitous and repugnant, that slavery stood at the center of the American story, was carefully and massively promoted by The Times and then immediately embraced by the rest of the liberal media, eventually winning Hannah-Jones a Pulitzer prize.

Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, Hannah-Jones achieved superstar status.

In the summer of 2020, according to NC Policy Watch, Hannah-Jones was invited by UNC Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, her alma mater, “for its Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, a tenured professorship.”

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Policy Watch reported last week that due to “political pressure from conservatives who object to her work on ‘The 1619 Project,'” the UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees rejected the tenure committee’s recommendation to grant Hannah-Jones tenure. “Instead, she will start July 1 for a fixed five-year term as Professor of the Practice, with the option of being reviewed for tenure at the end of that time period.”

Knight Chairs, the article explains, are sponsored by the Knight Foundation. They are “important and influential journalists who bring their expertise to the classroom at some of the nation’s most respected universities. While continuing their work in journalism, Knight Chairs offer students the perspective they’ve gained through their experience in the industry.”

Susan King, the dean of UNC Hussman, told Policy Watch, “It’s disappointing, it’s not what we wanted and I am afraid it will have a chilling effect.

“I’m not sure why and I’m not sure if that’s ever happened before … It was a work-around.”

Do you believe the UNC Board of Governors was correct to deny tenure to Hannah-Jones?

The university has been working with the Knight Foundation since the early 1980s, and all of its Knight Chairs have been tenured from the start, according to the report.

One of the board members spoke to Policy Watch on the condition of anonymity. This individual said there was one word to describe what happened to Hannah-Jones and that was “politics.”

“This is a very political thing. The university and the board of trustees and the Board of Governors and the legislature have all been getting pressure since this thing was first announced last month. There have been people writing letters and making calls, for and against. But I will leave it to you which is carrying more weight,” the trustee said.

The trustee blamed the Republican-dominated UNC Board of Governors and claimed that several conservatives groups exerted pressure on board members. The groups, according to the individual, “have been highly critical of Hannah-Jones’s work and the idea of her teaching at UNC-Chapel Hill.”

Policy Watch reported that a second trustee, who also wished to remain anonymous, “confirmed the political environment made granting Hannah-Jones tenure difficult, if not impossible.”

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The trustees seem to miss the fact that the conception and promotion of the 1619 Project was itself a political act.

The editor of one of the most influential newspapers in America decided he would set a narrative he knew every major media outlet would follow that would inflict so much damage on then-President Donald Trump, he would lose his bid for re-election.

It happened in August 2019. The occasion was a “crisis town-hall meeting,” a staff meeting held by The Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet. A recording of his remarks was reportedly leaked to and published by Slate.

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 original headline on The Times’ article on this speech read, “Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism.” Following harsh criticism from the left for the outlet’s positive take on the speech, the newspaper promptly changed its headline to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns.”

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

Baquet reportedly opened the meeting with a discussion of the “significant missteps” the paper had made in handling what he called the crisis. “But there’s something larger at play here,” he told employees, referring to The Times’ coverage of Trump, according to Slate.

Special counsel Robert Mueller had given his disastrous testimony several weeks earlier which pretty much ended the outlet’s attempt to take Trump down with its bogus Russian collusion story.

“We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well,” Baquet reportedly said. “Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.”

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

The newspaper would reportedly fabricate a new story — the “Donald Trump is a racist” story.

He reportedly told his staff, “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.”

Baquet allegedly offered his “vision” of what this meant for The Times.

“I think that we’ve got to change,” Baquet said, according to Slate. “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.”

The 1619 Project has plenty of problems by itself, but moving to make Hannah-Jones a tenured professor in a prestigious and respected university was simply a bridge too far for the Board of Governors. This was seemingly done to cash in on her name and the infamy of the woke garbage she peddles.

No doubt she will receive tenure at the end of five years, but at least for now, she’ll have to prove she has something to offer the university as a professor before being handed one of the most coveted positions there.

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Elizabeth writes commentary for The Western Journal and The Washington Examiner. Her articles have appeared on many websites, including MSN, RedState, Newsmax, The Federalist and RealClearPolitics. Please follow Elizabeth on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Elizabeth is a contract writer at The Western Journal. Her articles have appeared on many conservative websites including RedState, Newsmax, The Federalist,, HotAir, MSN and RealClearPolitics.

Please follow Elizabeth on Twitter.