APUSH Textbooks Are Covering The Trump Presidency; The Bias Is Worse Than You Think
The most popular APUSH textbook describes Trump as a "sexual predator."
I reviewed five of the most commonly used AP U.S. History textbooks that cover all the way through the Trump presidency.
Used every day by high school students in college-level history classes, the books all contain anti-Trump editorializing, false narratives, and employ selective editing to leave out significant stories that occurred during the Trump presidency.
The books all appear on the College Board’s list of textbooks that meet the AP Course Audit curricular requirements.
Nearly all of the textbooks claim “Russian meddling” was responsible for the 2016 election of Donald Trump, despite that narrative being debunked through multiple studies and news reports. A New York University Center for Social Media and Politics study found that Russian Twitter accounts had no measurable impact on the 2016 election. Facebook’s internal investigation also found that 56% of the $100K worth of Facebook ads purchased by Russians in 2016 were viewed on the platform after the election was over.
They also leave out all the details of how the Trump/Russia media narrative unraveled. None of them mention the phony Steele Dossier, how the FBI abused FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) to spy on Trump, the illegal unmasking of Michael Flynn, how officials like John Brennan, James Clapper, and Rep. Adam Schiff lied to the public about Russian collusion, or the role Hillary Clinton’s campaign played in feeding false Trump/Russia stories to the press.
Many of the books also cover in depth the unproven sexual misconduct allegations against President Trump and Justice Clarence Thomas while altogether leaving out any mentions of the many similar allegations against President Bill Clinton.
In addition, they all repeat debunked narratives about the Trayvon Martin shooting, and cover the Michael Brown shooting without acknowledging that the Obama Justice Department found the “hands up don’t shoot” narrative was a complete fabrication.
One textbook covers Officer Brian Sicknick’s death without clarifying that he died of natural causes from a stroke. The only one that covers the coronavirus pandemic claims that “wet markets” were the most likely origin of the virus while leaving out the lab leak theory.
One textbook says that Donald Trump’s message in 2016 “appealed successfully to nostalgia for a time when people of color and women knew their ‘place,’” that Donald Trump tweeting about how LeBron James and Maxine Waters “lack in intelligence” is racist, and that Trump’s election was responsible for hurricanes. Another attributes Trump’s victory in 2016 to “angry white men.”
One book contains the Trump Charlottesville “very fine people on both sides” hoax and another flat out falsely claims Trump never condemned Charlottesville at all.
Here is what I found in each book.
The American Pageant, 17th edition
This is the most popular APUSH textbook in America and has been in circulation since the 1950s, with the most recent edition authored by Stanford Professor David M. Kennedy and Harvard Professor Lizabeth Cohen.
In the section on the 2016 election, the authors describe Donald Trump as a “sexual predator” without going into specifics of the uncorroborated allegations against him (such as the lady who said “rape is sexy”) while describing Bill Clinton, accused of rape and sexual assault by multiple women, as merely “dogged” by scandal.
Paula Jones, Kathleen Wiley, and Juanita Broaddrick also go without mention.
The book also claims that Russia “disrupted the American electoral process” using social media, later proven to have little to no impact on the electorate. It leaves out any discussion of Hillary Clinton’s private server scandal other than as a footnote in how then FBI Director James Comey’s re-opening of the investigation days before the election “cast a dark cloud over the Clinton candidacy.”
The American Pageant also covers the Trayvon Martin shooting without mentioning how evidence showed he had been beating George Zimmerman, who was eventually found innocent in court on grounds of self defense. It also covers Ferguson without saying that Michael Brown robbed a convenience store, charged at police officer Darren Wilson, tried to steal his gun, and that “hand’s up don’t shoot” was disproven by Biden’s DOJ.
It also strangely connects Trump’s election to the hurricanes that occurred in Puerto Rico and Florida in 2017.
The American Promise, 8th Edition
This book was written by seven co-authors: Emory University Professor James L. Roark, Johns Hopkins University Professor Michael P. Johnson, Johns Hopkins University Professor Francois Furstenberg, University of California, Santa Barbara Professor Patricia Cline Cohen, Arizona State University Professor Sarah Stage, Ohio State University Professor Susan M. Hartmann, and Vanderbilt University Professor Sarah Igo.
They claim that the outcome of the 2016 election was due to Russian “cyberattacks” and “fake news.”
They also amusingly say, “Trump’s attacks on the mainstream media, which he claimed to be stacked against him, also seemed to resonate.”
Much like the previous book, American Promise mentions no details about Bill Clinton’s many sexual assault allegations while saying that the 2016 election was marked by “revelations of Trump’s sexual misconduct.”
They add that “many considered” Trump’s rhetoric to be “racist.”
The authors claim that President Trump “refused in 2017 to condemn a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.”
On the day the Charlottesville rally occurred, Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence.”
Two days later, he issued a statement saying, “KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
Once again, the authors also cover Trayvon Martin without mentioning how the evidence presented in the trial found George Zimmerman acted in self defense. It also says Zimmerman was white - he is actually Hispanic. The book covers Ferguson without mentioning how Michael Brown charged at Officer Darren Wilson, tried to steal his gun, and that Obama’s Justice Department, led by Eric Holder, found the “hands up don’t shoot” to be a lie.
Give Me Liberty: An American History, 6th Edition
This book was written by Columbia University historian Eric Foner.
While covering the Clarence Thomas confirmation, the book says, “sexual misconduct by public officials had a long history” while ignoring the many non-credible aspects of Anita Hill’s allegation against Clarence Thomas, such as how she followed him from his staff at the Department of Education to his new job at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Foner also mentions that Donald Trump’s “numerous affairs” would have “destroyed the prospects of a more conventional candidate.”
In his coverage of President Bill Clinton, however, Foner does not even use the words “sexual misconduct,” and leaves out any mention of his accusers.
Foner claims that Trayvon Martin was “accosted” by George Zimmerman, a member of the neighborhood watch in a gated community the homes of which had experienced dozens of recent break ins, and covers the Michael Brown shooting while also leaving out the debunked “hands up, don’t shoot” lie.
The book then covers the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court case (spelling it Holden) by saying that voter ID laws “were intended to limit the right to vote for poor people of all races, many of whom do not possess driver’s licenses or other official IDS.”
Foner then says that Donald Trump “appealed successfully to nostalgia for a time when people of color and women knew their ‘place.’” His only mention of Hillary Clinton’s private server came within the context of “lock her up” chants that occurred at candidate Trump’s rallies.
On Trump/Russia, Foner once again leaves out the Steele Dossier, FISA abuses and other stories that caused the liberal media’s narrative to fall apart. He also said it was racist for Donald Trump to tweet that LeBron James and Rep. Maxine Waters “lacked in intelligence.”
Experience History: Interpreting America’s Past, 9th Edition
This book, written by historian James West Davidson, contains the lie that President Trump said that the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville were “very fine people.”
Here is Trump’s full quote:
You had people – and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally – but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats – you had a lot of bad people in the other group too.
It also covers the Trump/Russia hoax without the stories of how it unraveled and says that Trump denied the existence of climate change because he preferred coal over wind and solar. Davidson bizarrely claims that China has lowered its emissions from coal when they have actually been increasing their output, becoming the largest polluter in the world.
America: A Narrative History, 12th edition
David Emory Shi, historian, and former president of Furman University, wrote this textbook that covers US history through the beginning of the Biden administration.
Shi covered the shooting of Michael Brown without mentioning that Obama’s DOJ found “hands up, don’t shoot” to be a false narrative. He attributes President Trump’s victory in 2016 to “angry white men.”
Shi covers how the Mueller Report found no evidence of Trump/Russian collusion but leaves out covering the Steele Dossier, FISA abuses, or any of the others that blew apart the Russiagate narrative.
On COVID, Shi writes that scientists agreed that the virus most likely originated in a Wuhan “wet market.” The book does not mention the lab leak theory, which is now considered the most likely source of the virus by the FBI and Energy Department.
He also editorializes why Republicans were skeptical of the CDC's orders during the pandemic, saying “the necessity of collective sacrifice in pursuit of the greater good during a national crisis should not be confused as an assault on individual liberty.”
Shi also writes about January 6, where he claims that Donald Trump told his supporters at the Ellipse to disrupt the congressional proceeding on certifying the election while leaving out how he also said to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” He also says that a police officer was killed without specifying that Officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes from a stroke the day after January 6.
Trump’s full quote:
We're going to walk down to the Capitol, and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.
Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated.
I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.
The book ends with Shi describing the beginning of the Biden administration. By his analysis, everything became good in the world again when Biden took office. He spins Biden’s limited public appearances by saying he uses “carefully crafted public statements to convey his stances on critical issues.”
He also claims Biden has “reached out to Republican opponents” (between calling them threats to democracy) and said the “economy was surging again” after Biden gave Americans new stimulus checks despite rampant inflation and negative wage growth, which naturally went unmentioned.
I reached out to all of the authors of these books for comment - I asked them about what the false narratives and editorializing they incorporated into their books meant for high school students to learn about American history.
I also asked them if they would include any of the following stories that occurred during the Trump/Russia sage in later editions of their books:
None have replied.
as a young person myself who is learning from textbooks just like these, this is no surprise to me. i'm pretty politically involved so i know what stuff's biased, but there are tons of people who enter HS apolitical and leave thinking that american history is uniquely evil, the american dream is dead, and climate change is the #1 thread to existence. conservatives need to wake up to what's happening in our classrooms if we want to avoid having a misanthropic generation that hates our country.
Great reporting! But as you know, every page of those textbooks is like that. There is no neutrality possible in education and they know it…
“ when Harvard adopted its motto, Veritas, in 1643, its Puritan founders were referring not to CDC fact checks, but to God’s Truth. Apparently that wasn’t clear enough for some, so by 1650 they changed the motto to In Christi Gloriam (“For the Glory of Christ”).
Did settlers in faraway Ohio a century and a revolution later share Harvard’s, er, “emphasis”? Per McCullough, the driving force behind the Northwest Ordinance’s stance on education – as well as its abolition of slavery – was Manasseh Cutler. To be precise, the Reverend Manasseh Cutler. Here is a typical thought of his, from a sermon he gave in the new territory he had so much to do with establishing:
Such is the present state of things in this country, that we have just ground to hope that religion and learning, the useful and ornamental branches of science, will meet with encouragement, and that they will be extended to the remotest parts of the American empire … Here may the Gospel be preached to the latest period of time; the arts and sciences be planted; the seeds of virtue, happiness, and glory be firmly rooted and grow up to full maturity.
If that passage were ever to be assigned in an Ohio public school today, it would come with a trigger warning. ”