Engaging the Left

I've debated fair-minded critics—and pummeled dishonest media.

This year, my work on critical race theory has sparked a passionate national debate. I’ve successfully delivered my message through conservative media, but I’ve also been eager to engage my critics on the political Left. Since February, I’ve had an ongoing tête-à-tête with The New York Times, participated in two debates on MSNBC, sat down for a New Yorker profile, and pummeled the dishonest reporters at The Washington Post.

Here are the highlights:

Responding to The New York Times‘ attack against my work

In February, The New York Times published an article claiming that I want to ban critical race theory because I was afraid to debate it. I responded immediately with a challenge to debate any prominent critical race theorist on the floor of the New York Times. None accepted, catching the Times in a lie and further exposing the critical race theorists for refusing to submit their ideas to public debate. I also responded with an op-ed in City Journal.

The Washington Post tried to smear me for criticizing race theory and failed spectacularly

The Washington Post had two reporters spend three weeks preparing a sloppy and error-ridden hit piece about my work. I immediately exposed five flat-out lies in the piece, forcing the paper to print numerous retractions within 48 hours of publication. I responded to this attack on my work on Tucker Carlson Tonight and with an op-ed in New York Post.

I exposed the Washington Post‘s “fact checker” for political bias—again

The Washington Post‘s “fact checker,” Glenn Kessler, set out to write a hit piece claiming that I might have fabricated one of my sources—but, after my friend Karlyn Borysenko brutally corrected him, his argument fell apart. Kessler eventually canceled the hit piece and was pummeled in conservative media. This story generated coverage in The Daily Wire, Breitbart, Town Hall, and RealClearPolitics.

My controversial debate with MSNBC’s Joy Reid

In June, I debated the merits of critical race theory with MSNBC host Joy Reid, which went viral on social media, as tens of thousands of Americans condemned Reid for refusing to let me speak. Even on MSNBC’s own YouTube channel, viewers gave Reid 23,000 thumbs down and attacked her with 17,000 negative comments. The debate gained further coverage at Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox NewsFox News’ Gutfeld!, Ben Shapiro Show, Michael Knowles Show, New York PostNewsweekThe Daily MailRealClearPoliticsDaily Caller, and The Post Millennial, with international coverage in Europe and New Zealand.

The New Yorker wrote a surprisingly sympathetic profile of my work

In June, The New Yorker published a long profile about my life and my work fighting critical race theory. Although The New Yorker is a magazine of the political Left, the reporter, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, approached the story with an open mind and a balanced perspective. If you can overlook the loaded title, it’s worth a read.

Debating Marc Lamont Hill on Black News Tonight

In May, I debated the merits of critical race theory with CRT proponent Marc Lamont Hill, who tried to bait me with the loaded question: “What do you like about being white?” I slammed this line of reasoning as a reductive form of race essentialism that seeks to erase individual human beings. The debate was covered at Fox News, The Ben Shapiro Show, The Rubin Report, Daily Wire, Blaze Media, and The Michael Knowles Show.

Debating Eddie Glaude Jr. on MSNBC’s Morning Joe

In July, I went on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to debate Princeton’s Eddie Glaude Jr. on the topic of critical race theory in education. Glaude could not refute my points and resorted to childish tactics, even rolling his eyes as I spoke. It backfired and Glaude was denounced by Fox News, New York Post, The Hill, Daily Caller, and RealClearPolitics, plus international coverage in Europe.

Discussing critical race theory on The New York Times podcast

I recently joined The New York Times podcast, The Argument with Jane Coaston, for a discussion on critical race theory with Stanford Law Professor R. Richard Banks. We disagreed in places (no surprise), but also found some common ground. Host Jane Coaston deserves credit for engaging in debate and is always a thoughtful voice.

French, Foster, Stanley, and William op-ed in the New York Times

In a July New York Times op-ed, co-authors David French, Kmele Foster, Thomas Chatterton Williams, and Jason Stanley argued that anti-CRT legislation is an “un-American” threat to democracy. My response in the New York Post explains how, despite their superficial differences, these writers serve a single function: ushering in the worst ideologies of the Left.

Appeared in a CNN documentary on critical race theory

I sat down with CNN for an interview about my work on critical race theory, which aired on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. The documentary was biased in favor of critical race theory, but I held my ground.

Christopher F. Rufo is a writer, filmmaker, and senior fellow of Manhattan Institute. He has directed four documentaries for PBS and is currently a contributing editor of City Journal, where he covers critical race theory, homelessness, addiction, crime, and other afflictions.

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