Almost a month after a widely panned congressional hearing where she said it was context-dependent whether calls for genocide against Jews violated Harvard’s code of conduct, President Claudine Gay announced that she was resigning, a coda that followed a pronounced pressure campaign led by conservatives in Congress, prominent donors and right-leaning media and activists.
Gay’s departure marked the rare exit that occasioned widespread congressional comment. House Speaker Mike Johnson argued “the resignation of Claudine Gay is long overdue,” giving voice to the disdain held for Harvard and other elite institutions by an increasingly populist Republican Party.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the Harvard grad whose line of questioning during the hearing produced the viral moments that doomed Gay — and led to University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill’s resignation — took a victory lap Tuesday.
“TWO DOWN,” wrote Stefanik in a post on X.
Yet it was the conservative media ecosystem, not Stefanik, that struck the crowning blow leading to Gay’s resignation. Gay managed at first to escape Magill’s fate with the support of the Harvard Corporation, the smaller and more powerful of Harvard’s two governing boards. But a sustained pressure campaign that focused on allegations of plagiarism in her scholarship ultimately led to her downfall.
It began Dec. 10, when conservative activists Christopher Rufo and Christopher Brunet published a newsletter on Substack titled “ Is Claudine Gay a Plagiarist?”
“The right has excelled at and outperformed the left when it comes to television and radio opinion … where the right has always lagged is in reporting,” Eliana Johnson, the editor-in-chief of the Free Beacon, said (Johnson formerly worked at POLITICO).