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Tales from the CNN Trump-Era Green Room

CNN stage
Photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
November 4, 2021

About five years ago, I went to a conference called the Faith Angle Forum, hosted by the Faith & Policy Center, a conservative-leaning Washington think tank. The Forum is a nice little getaway where journalists and faith leaders and scholars can meet and learn from each other. I was massively skeptical, as this is very much not my jam, but my very close friend, the New York Times Magazine political reporter Robert Draper, insisted that I attend. It’ll be interesting, he said. 

And it was. I remember being transfixed by Albert Raboteau, who taught religion at Princeton, delivering a lecture about how enslaved people in America flipped the power dynamic on its head by forgiving their tormentors, even when they had not asked for forgiveness. In extending forgiveness, they, who had nothing, had the power to bestow something important and other-worldly, thereby shifting the relationship between enslaved and enslaver, if only for a moment.