Newt Gingrich bashes NYT Magazine's slavery series: It's "embarrassing" and "factually false"

Gingrich says that the series on slavery is part of an agenda to defeat Trump by linking him to racism

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 19, 2019 4:36PM (EDT)

Newt Gingrich (Getty/Mark Wilson)
Newt Gingrich (Getty/Mark Wilson)

Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appeared on "Fox & Friends" Monday to denounce a New York Times Magazine series called "The 1619 Project," which attempts 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 tell we tell ourselves about who we are."

The former congressman and staunch supporter of President Donald Trump took umbrage with the project's mission.

"Yeah, the whole project is a lie," Gingrich told "Fox & Friends." "Look, I think slavery is a terrible thing. I think putting slavery in context is important. We still have slavery in places around the world today, so we need to recognize this is an ongoing story. I think, certainly, if you are an African-American, slavery is at the center of what you see as the American experience.

"But, for most Americans, most of the time, there were a lot of other things going on," he continued. "There were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves."

Gathering steam, Gingrich pointed to specific claims from the article and supposedly from the Times' editor himself.

"The fact is that I saw one reference that The New York Times claims that the American Revolution was caused in part to defend slavery. That is such historically factually false nonsense that it's embarrassing that The New York Times is doing this," Gingrich said. "But if you saw the recent leaked interview town hall meeting with The New York Times' editor, he basically said, 'Look, we blew it on Russian collusion, didn't work. Now we're going to go to racism, that's our new model. The next two years will be Trump and racism.' This is all a tragic decline of The New York Times into a propaganda paper worthy of Pravda or Izvestia in the Soviet Union."

Despite his criticisms of the Times' project, Gingrich has recently shown a willingness to adopt more progressive views on racial issues than other members of his party. During a 2016 interview with CNN's Van Jones, Gingrich expressed sympathy for African Americans who are targeted by America's law enforcement system.

"It took me a long time, and a number of people talking to me through the years, to get a sense of this: If you are a normal white American, the truth is you don't understand being black in America and you instinctively under-estimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk," Gingrich told Jones. He later added, "It is more dangerous to be black in America. It is more dangerous in that they are substantially more likely to end up in a situation where the police don't respect you and you could easily get killed. And sometimes for whites it difficult to appreciate how real that is and how it's an everyday danger."

At the same time, Gingrich has made it clear that the goal of the Trump administration and its allies is to do everything in their power to depict Democrats and liberals as dangerously radical.

"I think he doesn’t mind if it happens, but it’s not his primary focus," Gingrich told The New York Times last month. "His primary focus is to so thoroughly define Democrats as the party of the radical left. I think that matters much more to him than any particular bill."

You can watch the Gingrich's appearance on "Fox & Friends" below:

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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