November 17, 2020

A BOOK FOR OUR TIMES: Peter Wood’s 1620 Skewers 1619 Project.

As part of his review of the 1619 controversy as it stood through the summer of 2020, Wood gives us a portrait of 1619’s creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones. A woman who styles herself “the Beyoncé of journalism” acts the part of a diva, and more. Treated by the Times, according to Wood, as “exempt from ordinary forms of accountability,” Hannah-Jones didn’t deign to reply to even the most respectful and serious scholarly criticism of her project. She booked herself instead into speaking venues where she was greeted as hero, prophet, or genius. And of course, Hannah-Jones was showered with accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize. Rudely putting down critics, falsely denying that she’d said things she had demonstrably said, deleting tweets that showed her in a bad light, the behavior that eventually destroyed Hannah-Jones’s credibility was in evidence well before the final collapse. And it was all encouraged by the Times, which treated Hannah-Jones with kid gloves and ignored her critics until its hand was forced. Even when Times magazine editor Jake Silverstein finally answered a critical letter from twelve historians (not the first such letter), that letter’s text was never printed in the magazine.

Something larger is at stake here. To all appearances, Hannah-Jones is a grown-up “cry-bully.” She embodies the movement of campus snowflake culture into the “real world” (if the Times newsroom can be called that). In the old days, Hannah-Jones might have been dubbed a “spoiled child.” Pampered, self-important, lashing out in fury when challenged, she would appear to be a product of the modern double-standard.

It is a standard Wood dissects with some care.

Definitely read the whole thing.

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