The Washington Post attempted to smear me, the nation’s most prominent opponent of critical race theory — and it backfired spectacularly.
The fight over CRT has consumed American media. Conservatives have rallied against the toxic neo-Marxist ideology that seeks to divide the country into the racial categories of oppressor and oppressed; liberals have defended it as a “lens” for understanding vague buzzwords such as “systemic racism” and “racial equity.”
These stories have attracted millions of readers, helping spark a rebellion among parents in school districts across the country — and making me a target for the woke left.
In recent months, outlets including The New York Times, The New Republic, MSNBC, CNN and The Atlantic have relentlessly attacked me. But the coup de grâce, they believed, would be a 3,000-word exposé in The Washington Post. The paper dispatched two reporters, Laura Meckler and Josh Dawsey, and spent three weeks preparing a vicious hit piece against me, accusing me of a range of intellectual crimes.
Only the Post’s story rested on a bed of lies. Among other things, Meckler and Dawsey fabricated the timeline of events surrounding my involvement with former President Donald Trump’s executive order on CRT; incorrectly claimed that a Cupertino, Calif., diversity lesson I exposed never happened; and insisted that my reporting about the US Treasury Department’s diversity programs was false.
After the article was published, I went through it line-by-line and made a point-by-point rebuttal on social media and to The Washington Post’s editors. Within 48 hours, the paper’s story had collapsed.
The paper admitted to fabricating the timeline of events, having originally claimed that a Fox News appearance I made on Sept. 1 had “soon” been followed by a visit by me to the Trump White House and thereafter by an anti-CRT memo from Trump’s budget chief (in fact, I didn’t visit the White House until Oct. 30, long after Team Trump issued the memo and an anti-CRT executive order).
Further, the paper retracted or added six full paragraphs to the story and reversed its accusation that I invented the Cupertino story. The training did, in fact, take place, the paper conceded.
As for the assertion that I made false claims about the Treasury training, the paper insisted on the absurd point that the material — which told employees that “virtually all white people . . . contribute to racism” — did not mean that “all white people are racist,” as I had reported.
This was a deep embarrassment for The Washington Post, which then attempted to hide behind vague “clarifications” and sent a vice president of communications to do damage control. But what the paper did was indefensible: It dispatched deeply partisan reporters to do a hatchet job on a fellow journalist, with no regard for the facts or probity.
Here’s the problem: I have a large social-media platform and can defend myself. But what about ordinary Americans who are smeared, slandered and degraded by hyper-partisan outlets like The Washington Post?
The episode also shed light on the bizarre determination of the prestige press to play down just how radical and fundamentally un-American CRT is. The Washington Post story framed CRT as merely an attempt to push white Americans to “confront systemic racism and white privilege in America,” to prompt a “reckoning with America’s past and present sins.”
This is far more than a healthy reckoning. It’s indoctrination in ahistorical nonsense. It’s demonizing vast swaths of America over skin color. It’s racism. Democracy does indeed die in darkness, as The Washington Post’s motto proclaims. It’s just that the paper itself helps spread much darkness.
Christopher F. Rufo is a contributing editor of City Journal.