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Tell A Lie, Win A Pulitzer!

Maybe you missed the news that the august New York Times won yet another Pulitzer Prize, this one for its much-debunked “1619 Project.” If you didn’t, we have a question: Is there any better illustration for why Americans now hold the big media in such low esteem?

Nikole Hannah-Jones of the Times won the Pulitzer for Commentary on Monday, proving once again that the American media and its guiding institutions have continued to move far left, and that includes the Pulitzer Prize judges. Among major media, none have made the sinistral shift more determinedly than the New York Times under Executive Editor Dean Baquet.

The 1619 Project is aptly titled. It’s not journalism so much as a twisted piece of progressive propaganda that even now is being imposed on thousands of grade-school students as part of our “education” curriculum. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragically true.

The truth is, the essential outlines of the 1619 Project have been knocked down like bowling pins. In its own words, the alternate history proposes “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.”

As the Times further elaborated, “Out of slavery – and the anti-black racism it required – grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system, diet and popular music, the inequities of its public health and education, its astonishing penchant for violence, its income inequality.”

Sorry, but this error-riddled narrative doesn’t deserve the Pulitzer. America’s founding was in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed, not 1619, the year that the first chattel slaves were brought into the colonies.

That date is important, since the entire 1619 project hinges on the initial claim that maintaining slavery was a “primary motivation” for later colonists to rebel against England. Unfortunately for the Times, that was immediately, and definitively, debunked by historians of both the left and the right.

Faced with the actual facts, the New York Times later issued a correction, changing the statement to for “some of” the colonists it was a “primary motivation.” Oh, really? How many? Two? A thousand? The pre-Civil War South, or just part? Nothing to support it. The fact is, in early drafts of the Declaration itself, Thomas Jefferson cited the evils of slavery imposed by England’s kings as one of the main reasons for declaring our independence.

This wasn’t a simple “mistake.” One of the fact-checkers of the piece, Northwestern University historian Leslie Harris, brought the error to the Times’ attention, only to be ignored.

“On Aug. 19 of last year I listened in stunned silence as Nikole Hannah-Jones, a reporter for the New York Times, repeated an idea that I had vigorously argued against,” Harris wrote in a piece for Politico.

Her objection? “Far from being fought to preserve slavery, the Revolutionary War became a primary disrupter of slavery in the North American colonies,” Harris, who is herself African-American, wrote. Big difference.

This is just one of the many distortions and falsehoods in the 1619 Project. It’s rife with them. To dissect them all here would require a book-length treatise.

Harris is no lone dissenter. A group of major U.S. historians, including Texas State University professor emerita Victoria Bynum, Princeton’s James McPherson, Brown University historian Gordon Wood, CUNY’s James Oakes, and Sean Wilentz of Princeton, wrote a letter calling out the Times for its extremist rewrite of American history.

Meanwhile, the 1619 Project also spurred a group of African-American intellectuals, journalists and activists to create their own alternate 1776 initiative in response. They worry that America’s true legacy as a place of hope and freedom – despite its many well-documented shortcomings – is being erased by the Times’ false, extremist tale. We highly recommend you visit the 1776 site.

It turns out, rather than a bold and insightful reworking of U.S. history, the 1619 Project was little more than an effort to rewrite history to fit the pernicious and mistaken progressive belief that America is steeped in racism, hatred and capitalist oppression, and has been since before its actual founding.

To the progressive left, which now dominates both the major U.S. media and the Democratic Party, America isn’t the land of the free, but the home of racial, economic and class victimhood. America, the beacon of freedom that attracted tens of millions of impoverished immigrants from around the world, doesn’t really exist except as a xenophobic, racist and hyper-capitalist playground for white Americans – and is hell for everyone else.

As such, the 1619 Project isn’t really an education project at all. Indeed, it has one main goal: to further split Americans along race, class, gender and other lines, part of the left media’s divide-and-conquer strategy. Make Americans believe they’re all victims, and no one will agree on anything. “You owe me” becomes the universal mantra.

Children who have this biased bilge shoved down their throats in school, sadly will never learn the complex, true history of America and its foundations in Enlightenment ideals and natural law. Instead, they’ll be turned into self-loathing, America-despising tools of the progressive left, cursing the very things that have made, and continue to make, America great. This is little more than intellectual child abuse.

Given the falsity of its narrative, and its substitution of ideology for fact, the Times doesn’t deserve a Pulitzer for its misbegotten rewrite of history. Rather, it deserves to be singled out as yet another Orwellian example of the biased, leftist media throwing America’s real history down the memory hole.

– Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • We all have to face the fact that the Pulitzer prize has become hopelessly political. The judges now award the prize/recognition based on ideology, not accomplishment, quality, etc. If you want to win a Pulitzer facts, truth, will only get in your way and cause you to lose. The more biased and left wing ideology you can get into your writing the more likely you will be to win. Lying, faking are perfectly acceptable if done in the service of left wing revisionism. Its a shame though, but winning a Pulitzer is now a mark of shame!

  • Actually, the New York Times 1619 Project is just another Democrat propaganda piece to disparage America and get voters to vote Democrat by fomenting America as racist.

    • And it is an example of how far off the Deep end the NYTs has gone…. Goebbels would be proud.

  • All kids have to do is read Rush Limbaugh’s books on American history to get a true telling of our founding. Parents, don’t let your kiddies be brainwashed.

  • Par for the course: The New York Times never renounced the Pulitzer Prize given to their “reporter” Walter Duranty who deliberately covered up Stalin’s pograms during the 1930s.

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