Leftist Author Jon Meacham Named to Board of University of Tennessee’s Institute for American Civics

Author and former MSNBC contributor Jon Meacham was named to the Board of Fellows of the University of Tennessee’s newly established Institute for American Civics last week by University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd.

German-owned Politico reported that Meacham helped President Joe Biden “frame” his now infamously divisive “speech from hell” delivered in Philadelphia last week in which he attacked the 74 million Americans who voted for former President Donald Trump as a “threat to American democracy.”

The Tennessee Star asked Meacham on Monday, through his representatives, to confirm or deny that he helped write Biden’s now infamous Philadelphia speech, but he has not responded.

In October 2020, Meacham described supporters of then-President Donald Trump as “anguished, nervous” white men with a “lizard brain.”

Meacham has written several biographies of American presidents, holds the Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in American Presidency at Vanderbilt University and is co-chair of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy.

UT’s Institute for American Civics was established by an act passed by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Bill Lee (R-TN) earlier this year. Lee proposed the establishment of the Institute during his State of the State address in January of this year. At a signing ceremony for enabling the law in May, Lee stated, “This is an effort that I think is going to be a model for the country. It’s a great opportunity for our students to have access to an education that will provide us insight into the ideas and the institutions that make Tennessee great, that make America great.”

[UT President] Boyd, with input from Lee and other legislative leaders, will create a 13-member board to search for and advise the director of the institute.

“The good news is there are a lot of incredible possibilities, but it’s going to make it really difficult to decide who (is on the board),” Boyd said. “But I can guarantee that we’re going to have an incredible Board of Fellows.” …

UT anticipates hiring 56 people to support the institute. . . The bulk of the $6 million comes from salaries and benefits for the new employees, making up about $3.2 million of the total. In the fiscal documents outlining how the institute will operate, the director’s annual salary is listed at $200,000 a year, plus benefits, though that could be higher or lower depending on the candidate.

The Tennessee General Assembly appropriated $6 million in FY 2022-2023 – and $4 million annually thereafter – to establish the Institute as part of the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

According to the 16-page document released by the Howard Baker Center’s leadership last Wednesday, the purpose of the Institute, as identified in the enabling legislation, is to:

  1. Foster a deeper understanding of the structures and institutions of federal, state, and local government.
  2. Further the understanding of the principles and philosophies that contributed to the foundation and development of the United States and the State of Tennessee.
  3. Promote civil discourse and constructive debate.
  4. Enhance education in the fields of politics, economics, philosophy, American history, American government, and other related fields as appropriate with a focus on the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship; fundamental democratic principles; and the ways in which those principles are expressed in our federal, state, and local institutions.
  5. Provide nonpartisan resources to students, faculty, state government agencies, and the general public regarding civic affairs.
  6. Foster civic engagement through full and fair discussions that promote civil dialogue among those holding conflicting points of view.
  7. Assist in ensuring that the University of Tennessee serves as a robust marketplace of ideas for all students and faculty.

Meacham is one of 13 members of the Institute’s Board of Fellows. The other board members are:

  • Former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican
  • Former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, a Democrat
  • A. B. Culvahouse, Of Counsel at O’Melveny & Myers and former U.S. ambassador to Australia, serving as chair
  • Marianne Wanamaker, professor of economics and executive director of the Baker Center, the University of Tennessee
  • Danielle Allen, professor of government and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University
  • Arthur Brooks, William Henry Bloomberg professor of the practice of public leadership, Harvard Kennedy School; professor of management practice, Harvard Business School
  • Daniel Diermeier, chancellor of Vanderbilt University
  • Amy Elias, chancellor’s professor, distinguished professor of English, and director of the UT Humanities Center, the University of Tennessee
  • Robert George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University
  • Claudia Williamson Kramer, Probasco chair of free enterprise, professor of economics, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Glenn Reynolds, Beauchamp Brogan distinguished professor of law, the University of Tennessee
  • Paul Stumb, president of Cumberland University

Former Governor Haslam, Meacham, and Samar Ali (who is not on the Institute’s Board of Fellows) serve as co-chairs of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy. One seasoned Tennessee political veteran told The Star this unusual cross-pollination of leadership between the Vanderbilt project and the taxpayer-funded UT Institute suggests that the philosophy of the private university’s project may already have infected the UT project.

“I guarantee you the Tennessee Republican state legislators who voted to spend the money had no idea that they would be funding the author of Biden’s totalitarian Philadelphia speech, but that’s exactly what happened. Your tax dollars at work,” the political veteran said.

In an email sent on Monday, The Star asked UT President Randy Boyd to explain why he named a divisive partisan like Meacham to the board of an institute designed to promote bipartisan understanding and cooperation. As of press time Boyd has not responded.

The Star posed the same question to Gov. Lee. As of press time, Lee has not responded.

Several Tennessee state legislators with whom The Star spoke on Monday expressed shock that Meacham had been named to the Institute’s Board of Fellows.

In addition, one influential Tennessee grassroots leader was astonished at the appointment.

“Any attempt to appoint conservative authors to a similar board in, oh, say, California or New York, would be met with desperate shrieks of condemnation by Democrats. Can you imagine Kathy “get out of New York” Hochul’s reaction? Just a brief look at Jon Meacham’s Twitter account @jmeacham shows that he regards the 60 percent of Tennessee voters who cast a vote for Trump to be violent Neanderthals who must be closely monitored by the federal government,” Nashville Tea Party founder and president Ben Cunningham told The Star.

“He recently retweeted a [Washington Post] op-ed: The MAGA-evangelical alliance is a direct threat to liberal democracy,” Cunningham added.

– – –

Michael Patrick Leahy is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Jon Meacham” by Wilkes University. Background Photo “University of Tennessee” by University of Tennessee.


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16 Thoughts to “Leftist Author Jon Meacham Named to Board of University of Tennessee’s Institute for American Civics”

  1. John

    I refer to Biden’s speech as his “round up the Jews speech”. The imagery was done on purpose. Obey or you’ll be exiled from society.

  2. Randy

    Randy Boyd, sticking it to Knoxville every chance he gets.

  3. Karen L Bracken

    I am not surprised at all. TN has some of the most progressive (communist) Universities in the country. How many are aware that the The Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit was created right here in TN at the U of T Knoxville by Rosalyn McKeown PhD Version 2 2002. Dr. Rosalyn McKeown is Secretariat of the UNESCO, Chair on Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability, the United Nations Chair on Education for Sustainable Development. The opening of this tool kit sings the praises of UN Agenda 21 and the 1992 Rio meeting in which US President George Bush sealed our fate to the new world order. This meeting inspired her to write the Toolkit to basically replace academics with indoctrination. Here is a little statement from this document: “Generally, more highly educated people, who have higher incomes, consumer more resources than poorly educated people, who tend to have lower incomes. In this case more education increases the threat to sustainability.” So in other words we must dumb down our children in order to fulfill their dream of depopulation and control of all human activity because that is what Sustainability and UN Agenda 21 are all about. Knoxville especially, is loaded with education administrators trained at the very progressive Eli Broad’s Superintendent Academy. TN has been host to Sir Michael Barber another UNESCO/UN communist. The group (EDI) he founded had a contract to help TN set up implementation of Common Core. He destroyed education in the UK and then came to do the same in the US. He created a system called Deliverology which after being implemented in the UK caused people to fake results in order to meet the objectives. “Deliverology” is a method of implementing change in such a way that it CANNOT revert back to the old ways. He believes the purpose of education is to change beliefs and values. He also was the Chief Education Advisor at Pearson. EDI actually had a contract with the state of TN. And then we have another communist by the name of Marc Tucker who was invited by our education committees a few years back to speak to them. This is the same Marc Tucker that wrote the infamous DEAR HILLARY letter right after Bill was elected President. Marc Tucker was heavily involved in the education policies and legislation during the Clinton administration. And then we have the millions that Bill Gates has dropped in TN. So you see the RED state of TN is more RED than most people know. And I do not mean RED as in conservatism. Just a side bar….did you know that Chattanooga was one of the original beta sites for UN Agenda 21??? Well, now you do.

  4. That’s why I didn’t vote for Randy Boyd for Governor, and the same reason Gov. Lee should never have appointed him to any state positions.

    One would think that after the Office of Diversity at UT was defunded and disbanded in 2016, they would tread easy. But no, they have to push the limits. So, maybe our legislature needs to act again.

    1. william r. delzell

      Hames, do you have a problem with diversity in Tennessee? Sooner or later, young people in this state will learn about it despite your efforts to censor it and your attempts to lead our young people to believe that prejudice and injustice don’t exist.

      1. Tim Price

        But its okay to tell white people that they don’t matter? EVERYONE matters despite what liberals say!

  5. 83ragtop50

    Just when I thought it could not get any worse at UT – Billy Boy Lee lets it happen again.

  6. william delzell

    You mean we actually have leftists in good lil’ ol’ Tennessee to direct the teaching of civics at our state institutions of higher learning? That’s just too good to be true!

  7. sissy

    What has happened to Tennessee? We can’t win for hiring their liberals. If he wrote that disgusting speech for Squint to give (and he did so poorly), he doesn’t belong with any college to further damage our children. Gov. Lee, you are supposed to be a Republican. Where are you?

  8. Mary

    I reckon we dodged a bullet….

  9. mikey whipwreck

    come november i am not going to vote for bill lee.

    UTK has become a superleftist college. amazing.

  10. Molly

    Hey Billy does anyone on your bloated career bureaucrat liberal staff ever hear of background checks?
    Seriously you hv American hating Boyd and Haslam at the same public trough.
    I suppose next you will appoint special interest payoff pals Sexton and McNally to some public trough as soon as they lose their next election

  11. John Bumpus

    Randy Boyd ‘at work’ again. This ‘mistake’ is so egregious, that the best that can be said about Boyd is that the man has NO JUDGEMENT, and the worst is that the man is a leftist. Which is it? I myself ‘HAVE’ TO THINK that it is ONLY one or the other.

    Governor Lee and Republican leaders of the Tennessee General Assembly—You men ‘learn slow!’ You had better get control of this problem ASAP!

    Once the leadership of an organization is infected with Marxism ‘at the top,’ there is a tendency for the infection to soon ‘travel’ all the way ‘down to the bottom of the chain.’

    The tenor of this story is truly disgraceful!

    If the Governor and the leaders of the Tennessee General Assembly do not immediately act and deal with this ‘garbage,’ then I think that it is time for the rank and file Republican membership of the Tennessee General Assembly to replace their ‘leaders’ with other men who will, and do so ASAP.

    The people of the State of Tennessee (and their ‘student’ children at the University of Tennessee—or, as Rush Limbaugh used to like to say, “young people with skulls full of mush”) must be protected from the toxic poison that is Marxism. Yes, students at UT may need to learn about the evils of Marxism, but they need to be taught about it by someone who is a true believer in Free Markets and individual liberty (like a ‘Ronald Reagan’), rather than by some leftist revolutionary (like a ‘Fidel Castro’) however exalted his/her academic credentials may be.

    And if the rank and file Republican membership of the Tennessee General Assembly need to promptly and decisively deal with this problem, but they will not do so for whatever the reason, then the Tennessee electorate will need to do so!

    1. 👏👏👏. Well said. They love getting ahold of our children for indoctrination. Legislators, are you listening?

    2. Mark Knofler

      Yes sir John. The RINO class has really exposed itself, Mr Lee has been a HUGE disappointment to say the least. He always looks like a deer in the headlights when he’s interviewed. And unfortunately Andy Ogles, with his disappearing act, is going to be in the same yapping class of politicians we are currently saddled with. TN GOP $ux.

      We need fighters right now, not hide under the bed and go along to get along bloviators like Blackburn, et al.

    3. Dr Ken

      Spot on accurate. Once again underscoring the importance of voting this November. We need to throw the leftist wokes out of every position of authority. I fully agree, starting now, leaders currently in office need to step up and remove these ideologues from the people’s payroll.