A CBS panel defended left-wing journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and even backed her claims of racist treatment following her decision to turn down tenure at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on Tuesday.
CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste interviewed several faculty who heaped praise on Hannah-Jones and bemoaned what a loss it was to their institution that she would be moving on. At the conclusion of Wednesday’s segment, CBS correspondent Jericka Duncan echoed Hannah-Jones’ suggestion that race played a role in her delayed tenure offer.
“I think her point in that letter is that this isn’t just her fighting for herself but on behalf of the many people whose opportunities are stifled because there are certain people that don’t want certain people at their institutions,” Duncan said.
“For sure the students at Howard University are lucky they will have her as a teacher,” Battiste said.
“This Morning” co-host Tony Dokoupil also suggested Hannah-Jones was a hero to those watching her situation unfold.
“A lot of people also living vicariously through her, being able to say, well someone said, ‘I don’t want this job, I got a better job. Take that!'” Dokoupil said, laughing.
“She had a lot of options,” the other panelists agreed.
Hannah-Jones’ legal counsel Janai Nelson, associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., told Batiste that if her client moves forward with a lawsuit against UNC, it will be on the grounds of First Amendment violations, race, and gender discrimination.
UNC was roasted by social media users on Tuesday, who called the university’s handling of the Hannah-Jones situation humiliating.
“Proud of UNC for embarrassing and debasing both itself and its academic rigor in exchange for getting turned down,” noted Federalist senior editor Christopher Bedford.
Hannah-Jones, creator of the controversial but award-winning 1619 Project that examines the long-term consequences of slavery in America, told CBS anchor Gayle King Tuesday that her decision to reject UNC tenure was a “difficult” one, but one she made because of “what it took” to get the offer in the first place.
UNC officials first denied Hannah-Jones tenure, but would later extend an offer in a 9-4 vote by the Board of Trustees. Hannah-Jones celebrated the offer by posting a picture of her pouring herself a drink on Twitter, but ultimately decided to accept a position at Howard University instead.
“Because look what it took to get tenure,” she said of her decision on UNC tenure. “This was a position that since the 1980s came with tenure. The Knight chairs are designed for professional journalists when working in the field, to come into academia. Every other chair before me, who also happened to be White, received that position with tenure.”