Thursday, January 02, 2020

The New Criterion: "1619 And All That: On The NYT's Recent Disinformation Campaign"

Brutal, but deserved:
   We are a bit late in getting to that dog’s breakfast called “The 1619 Project,” The New York Times’s effort to “reframe”—read, “wildly distort”—the history and governing impetus of the American Founding. Readers of the satirical classic 1066 and All That know what fun can be had if you go about your job as a storyteller serving up “all the History you can remember” and pretending that it is the truth. “Histories,” we read in 1066 and All That, “have previously been written with the object of exalting their authors. The object of this History is to console the reader.”
   It was to console its core readership that The New York Times undertook The 1619 Project in a special flood-the-zone issue of its Sunday magazine in August and then in a snazzy, graphics-heavy series of features on its website. For two years, the Times had invested heavily in the vaudeville entertainment called “Trump–Russia.” The spectacular failure of its leading man, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to deliver a happy ending to that fiasco underscored the essential futility of the entire enterprise.
   This was something that Dean Baquet, Executive Editor of the Times, grasped instantly. Last summer, he huddled with his staff in a town-hall-style meeting—the proceedings of which were promptly leaked—and acknowledged a sad truth: “We built our newsroom to cover one story” (the now-debunked story that Donald Trump had “colluded” with Russia to steal the 2016 election). The story didn’t pan out. “Now we have to regroup,” Baquet told the assembled troops, “and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.” What story? Henceforth, or at least “for the next two years”—the remainder of Trump’s first term—the Times was going all in on “race, and other divisions.” Robert Mueller couldn’t get Trump. Maybe the Times could by writing about race in a “thoughtful,” i.e., obsessive and one-sided, way—“something,” Baquet added “we haven’t done in a large way in a long time.”
   So there you have it. “That, to me,” Baquet concluded, “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.” Et voilà, The 1619 Project, which the paper described in a preface as
a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’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.
   What followed was a stupefying race-based fantasy about the origins of the United States. The lead essay, by the black journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, the “architect” of The 1619 Project, set the tone..
Way worth a read.
   You'd think it'd be significant even to NYT true believers that Baquet came right out and admitted that they'd bet the farm on the transparently ridiculous Russiagate hoax, and needed another PC fantasy angle to play. But I guess not.
   Oh and: nobody ever seems to mention the fact of slavery among the American Indians in this context. There were not only slaves in the Americas before 1619 and the introduction of African slaves, there were slaves in the Americas before there were any Europeans or Africans here at all.
   Adults who still take the New York Times seriously on such topics probably deserve what they get--i.e. disinformed. But this--like so many of the left's pathologies--is being inflicted on kids, too.


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