Martha MacCallum, host of Fox News‘ “The Story,” had a rather heated live debate with Professor Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, America’s teachers union.
The teachers union president is a history and social studies teacher.
The host’s questions that got Weingarten in trouble focused on the teachers’ union president’s outspoken support for Critical Race Theory and Project 1619 to be included in curricula across the country.
The 1619 Project is a controversial Pulitzer Prize-winning piece of journalism written by journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, and published by The New York Times in 2019. That article “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative.” At the beginning of the research piece, an alternative date is posited for the founding of America, when the first slave ship supposedly arrives in these lands.
Several historians have criticized the project for its inaccuracies in the historical account. Project 1619 even failed to pass the New York Times‘ own fact-checkers. However, journalistic work is gaining ground in the country’s curricula, with the support of people like Randi Weingarten.
The debate between Martha MacCallum and Randi Weingarten
MacCallum began her interview by insightfully questioning Professor Weingarten for pushing for a curriculum in the country focused on certain parts with 1619 Project. The union president responded that “from everything I can see and understand from the data that I see, 1619 was the year that the first slave boat came from Africa to the United States. So that’s a point in history that I think we should be teaching.”
Not satisfied with the response, the Fox News host told Weingarten that “That’s a very simplistic view.” MacCallum explained that Project 1619 manipulates and misinforms America’s children so that they begin to believe that their “country was founded on the basis of wanting to preserve slavery.”
“If you raise children in this country believing that it’s a bad country that was founded in wanting to preserve slavery […] then we’ve got a problem in our school system,” stated the Fox News host, who went on to explain her view of why Nikole Hannah-Jones’ journalistic work represents a conflict within the American education system.
The union president dismissed MacCallum’s monologue by stating that she herself spoke with Hannah-Jones and that her conclusions from analyzing the content differed greatly from what the anchorwoman emphasized.
At this point, when the interview was notoriously uncomfortable for Weingarten, the history professor tried to radically change the subject to talk about “conservative electoral misinformation” in the last U.S. election.
“I would hope that Fox would be just as focused on let’s get rid of the misinformation about what happened in this election. This election was free and fair,” Weingarten suddenly asserted, prompting an indignant MacCallum to intervene.
But MacCallum quickly reined Weingarten in, accusing her of wanting to deflect from the crux of the matter: her position on Project 1619.
“Oh, come on, Randi,” the TV host exclaimed. “This is not the topic that we’re here to talk about. I’m not going to talk about that. We talked about that before. But that’s a dodge. Okay? So I’m asking you –you say you’re a social studies teacher. Do you favor teaching students that 1619 is more important than 1776? Do you favor that?”
To which Weingarten replied, “I favor us teaching about 1776, which I have often done. I favor us teaching about 1619. I also favor us teaching about the holocaust and the genocide in terms of the holocaust.”
The interview continued with tempers flaring and Martha MacCallum pressing the teachers’ union president on whether she agreed with teaching Critical Race Theory in educational institutions.
The host asked Weingarten about whether she had a problem with teaching children “that if they’re White they belong to an oppressor class and if they’re Black they belong to a victim class.”
The union president simply stated that “all ethnicities” should be uplifted and “celebrating diversity and actually looking at people’s lived experience.”
The debate continued to roll in circles. Martha MacCallum remained skeptical of Critical Race Theory in schools and Weingarten ended by stating that she has a deep love for United Staes, but is looking for ways to make it better.
The presenter closed the interview with the following sentence, “I come from a long line of very proud teachers,” MacCallum concluded, “and… I think some of them would be disturbed by what we see happening.”