CNN attempted to portray conservative opponents of the highly controversial “critical race theory” curriculum as conspiracy theorists who get their marching orders from Fox News during a Wednesday morning segment on “New Day.”
Co-host Brianna Keilar introduced the segment by claiming: “Republican politicians have been framing this theory as a threat to American children and legislatures in more than 12 states have proposed bills to ban it,” adding that Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, vowed to fight back against such efforts.
Keilar then brought in CNN correspondent Elle Reeve to talk about a lengthy report she filed on the controversy, which critics blasted as one-sided against conservative CRT critics.
Asked by the co-host if critics of CRT “fully understand” what the curriculum actually is, Reeve responded: “No, and why should they? It’s an academic theory mostly taught at the grad student level. But what they think it means is teaching white kids that all white people are bad and racist. Of course, they’re afraid of that.”
In beginning her report, Reeve linked CRT criticism to protests and violence that sprang up around the country following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
“In the wake of protests of the murder of George Floyd, Republican politicians have been hyping critical race theory as a threat to the impressionable minds of America’s children,” she said, going on to note that she interviewed a public school teacher, Keziah Ridgeway, who is black, to get her views of CRT — all of which were glowing.
“Critical race theory is not being taught in schools. It is a theory, it is a lens by which to view history and the way that law and race kind of overlaps and connects in society,” Ridgeway told Reeve. “Can it influence the way that some teachers teach? Yeah, but that’s a good thing, right? Because race and racism is literally the building blocks of this country. So how can you not talk about it?”
The CNN correspondent went on to describe conservative critics of the curriculum as pushing “relentless propaganda,” while clips of various Fox News hosts and guests including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis played in what appeared to be an attempt to tie the two together. She also reported that parents are showing up in greater numbers at school board meetings to push back on CRT.
“Critical race theory says racial inequality is perpetuated by the racism embedded in America’s laws. Not by individual bigotry. But relentless propaganda from some conservatives created a panic that white people and especially white children are under attack,” Reeve intoned.
“These are systemic things. Ignoring it perpetuates the problem. By acknowledging it, we can find solutions and we can address the problems and inequality that exists in our country,” Ridgeway said next.
Reeve gave the high school anthropology teacher plenty of opportunities to tell her side without any pushback.
“Are you teaching children to hate America?” Reeve asked.
“No, I’m teaching children to question America and that’s what makes a good patriot,” Ridgeway responded.
Later, Reeve spoke to critics of the theory including a college student named Sam Jones, who is a member of a campus Republican group. Asked by Reeve to explain CRT, he responded: “Critical race theory the idea that’s taught to our nation’s youth that the way that you’re born contributes to the amount of success that you can achieve in this country. It’s not true. It basically states that white people are born with everything and if you’re not white, you’re born with nothing.”
Reeve then asked Jones if he could name any CRT scholars without explaining why that’s relevant. After he couldn’t name any, Reeve asked Jones to list for her one critical race theory concept.
“I don’t know what the concepts are. I think I summarized critical race theory as a whole pretty well,” he said.
Moving on to another College Republican named Craig Lewis, Reeve also asked him to describe CRT.
“To paint the country as an inherently racist country from its founding, I think is dangerous,” he said.
The CNN correspondent replied by mentioning “the three-fifths compromise” that was written into the U.S. Constitution, an agreement between northern and southern representatives to the 1787 Constitutional Convention whereby blacks in the South were counted as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of the taxation and representation in the House.
“Of course. That was applied at an earlier time. That is not the case now obviously,” Lewis responded.
Mekkah X. Mohammed, a black woman Reeve also talked to about CRT, said she first heard about the issue on Fox News. She then said she believes that “the idea that you can’t succeed based on your race is ludicrous.”
“This is not the 1960s just because of your skin color does not mean you cannot be successful here in America, point blank period,” she continued.
Ridgeway got the last word in the segment.
“…I think we do them a disservice by continuing to pretend like critical race theory is the issue when it’s really you just don’t want kids to learn the truth because not only do they become critical thinkers, they also become voters,” the high school teacher said. “And that is what’s scaring a lot of these people. They know as this generation gets older, a lot of these people making these laws will be voted out of office.”
Finishing up her segment with Keilar, Reeve seemed to doubt people who told her that they no longer believe racism is a problem in America.
“All these opponents of critical race theory told us that, sure, racism was a problem in the past. But it’s not now. And so we got into these long conversations about when exactly they thought racism had ended in America. And they didn’t have a good answer,” she told Keilar.
“What did they tell you? What were their answers for that? Did they point to any specific data points?” Keiler asked.
“Well, one person offered the ’90s. Another person said, well, the ’50s and ’60s were really bad but that ended some time in the ’80s and ’90s. Other people pointed to Barack Obama,” said Reeve.