Mega – donor who gave $25million to UNC’s journalism school objected to hiring of 1619 Project’s Nikole Hannah-Jones over fears she was ‘trying to push an agenda’, private emails reveal after she was not granted tenure

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  • Newspaper tycoon Walter Hussman, Jr. voiced concerns about Hannah-Jones objectivity as a journalist
  • In 2019 Hussman donated $25 million to his alma mater, which then renamed its journalism school after him 
  • The school sparked a controversy in May when it hired Hannah-Jones as a Knight Chair professor but did not grant her tenure
  • As a reporter for the New York Times Hannah-Jones launched the 1619 Project, which sought to look at the long-term effects of slavery in America
  • In private emails Hussman expressed his belief that she was ‘manipulating historical facts’ to support an agenda
  • The university still hired her over his objections 

A millionaire megadonor objected to UNC’s hiring of 1619 Project author Nikole Hannah-Jones, and questioned her objectivity as a journalist claiming she was ‘trying to push an agenda’, emails have revealed.

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Millionaire newspaper tycoon Walter Hussman Jr, 75, complained to the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill last summer when he learned that they were thinking of hiring the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter.

Hussman donated $25 million to his alma mater in 2019, and UNC renamed their journalism department after him.

‘I worry about the controversy of tying the UNC journalism school to the 1619 project,’ he wrote to Susan King, dean at the Hussman School of Journalism.

The New York Times’ 1619 Project has been criticized for reframing American history as fundamentally racist and also containing inaccuracies and generalizations.

But King would hire Hannah-Jones anyway as a Knight Chair professor at the Hussman School.

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But in a controversial break from tradition, the school this month rescinded its offer of a tenured position, confirming that Hannah-Jones would instead join its faculty this summer with a five-year contract.

The offer of a tenured teaching position was last week resubmitted to the board of trustees at a North Carolina university after outrage and campus protests when her tenure application was halted. Hannah-Jones starts her professorship on July 1.

Hussman worried in the email sent in December, and obtained by The Assembly that many would believe that Hannah-Jones was, ‘trying to push an agenda,’ through the 1619 Project, and that, ‘they will assume she is manipulating historical facts to support it.’


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