ABC and NBC Continue Van Jones Blackout, Instead Tout Obama's 'Transparency' and Rue Attacks on Him
Published: 9/4/2009 8:55 PM ET
[See Saturday coverage update below]
ABC and NBC on Friday night, even after White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was forced to address the topic, continued their blackout of the radical and America-hating conspiracy views of Van Jones, the "Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation" on the White House's Council on Environmental Quality.
Instead of taking up how five years ago Jones signed the 911truth.org petition calling for an "immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur," a revelation to which FNC's Special Report devoted a full story on Thursday, on ABC's World News fill-in anchor George Stephanopoulos trumpeted the Obama White House "transparency" in the "unprecedented" decision to release visitor logs, which Jake Tapper described as an "historic" move before Stephanopoulos fretted over how Obama "is facing this liberal revolt over the public health insurance option, and the President decided to take it head-on today."
Over on NBC, Brian Williams bemoaned: "A back to school speech by the President. How did it get branded as an attempt to brainwash America's children?" He also conveyed liberal disappointment Obama-defenders aren't tough enough: "Some are asking how the White House message got hijacked before the speech was delivered and why more people aren't pushing back." Andrea Mitchell asserted that "it's only the latest example of what the White House calls the silly season - town halls where disabled speakers are shouted down....From charges of death panels to the birthers..."
So, NBC Nightly News rued the impact of the "birther" believers but still didn't find newsworthy how the Obama administration picked for a prominent White House position a guy who believes the nation's leaders committed mass murder.
Only the CBS Evening News, of the broadcast network evening newscasts on Friday night, mentioned Van Jones - in a full story from Bill Plante that also featured several other wacky and hateful utterances from Jones. (Scott Whitlock's earlier post: "All Three Morning Shows Skip Any Reference to Radical Obama Czar and 9/11 Truthers.)
CNN also caught up with FNC on Friday with a full story on The Situation Room by Mary Snow who highlighted how, angry at the non-guilty verdicts for the police officers in the Rodney King case 15 years earlier, in 2005 Jones told the San Francisco-area East Bay Express: "By August, I was a communist."
In his Thursday night FNC piece (Brad Wilmouth's item), James Rosen reported:
And within hours after the Twin Towers collapsed, the groups Jones founded and led lashed out at U.S. police and intelligence agencies for using 9/11 as a, quote, "cash cow." The manifesto for one of these groups equated those killed on 9/11 with, quote, "the victims of U.S. imperialism around the world."FoxNews.com article.
[UPDATE: On Saturday, September 5, neither ABC's Good Morning America nor NBC's Today mentioned Jones and college footbal meant no ABC's World News or NBC Nightly News. Saturday's Washington Post carried that paper's first story, on page 3: "White House Says Little About Embattled Jones." The New York Times blackout continued on Saturday, though a Saturday item on its "The Caucus" blog noted the Jones controversy and, ironically, how "conservatives are abuzz over the mainstream media's oversight of the story."]
Friday night, Stephanopoulos teased World News with an upbeat spin on the highest unemployment rate in 26 years: "The unemployment rate nears 10 percent, but the numbers aren't all bad."
He then turned to Jake Tapper at the White House and covered three topics, but not Jones despite the fact Tapper had used his ABCNews.com "Political Punch" blog on Thursday night and Friday to take up Jones:
- Controversial Obama Administration Official Denies Being Part of 9/11 "Truther" Movement, Apologizes for Past CommentsFrom the Friday, September 4 World News:
- White House Declines to Say Van Jones Enjoys "the Confidence of the President"
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring in Jake Tapper now from the White House, and Jake we have a lot to cover tonight. But let's begin with the economy. Wall Street shrugged off these unemployment numbers today, went up about 100 points, solid gains for the week and it seemed like the core message from the White House today is that this could have been a lot worse. JAKE TAPPER: That's exactly right, George, the message from the White House is that the last time that the job loss numbers were this low was a year ago and while they know they have a lot of work to do, they are on the uptick. They say this is because of the recovery plan, the stimulus bill, which has meant good news out of the housing sector, and for manufacturing jobs and, of course, for consumer confidence.From the CBS Evening News:
STEPHANOPOULOS: And there was a major announcement today on the issue of transparency from the White House as they announced that going forward, they are going to release the public the names of virtually all the visitors to the White House, and that is unprecedented.
TAPPER: It's unprecedented, it is historic. There are some exceptions. They will not release the names of individuals, disclosing information might cause some national security issues or individuals who are conducting personal visits with the first or second families, the Obamas or the Bidens. And they also will temporarily withhold information about any sensitive political visits, like a Supreme Court candidate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, looking ahead to the President's health care speech next week, the White House is facing this liberal revolt over the public health insurance option, and the President decided to take it head-on today.
TAPPER: That's right. He had a conference call with major House liberal leaders who wanted to push the President to include what they call a robust public option, a government-run health care plan in the health care reform bill. The President listened, but the bottom line, George, is he hasn't made any decisions, he has to listen to all the Democrats in the House and Senate, and for him, the public option is a means to an end. It's a way to make sure costs are contained, to have competition with insurance companies, and, of course, to keep insurance companies honest. He is not committed to a public option, therefore there could be any number of ways to achieve what he wants to achieve.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Jake Tapper from the White House, thanks very much.
JEFF GLOR'S TEASE: Conservative outrage, the uproar after a presidential advisor attacks Republicans. ....CBSNews.com video of Plante's story.
JEFF GLOR: Chances are that until this week you'd never heard the name Van Jones. He's a presidential advisor who suddenly finds himself in the middle of an uproar over what he said about Republicans and his views on 9/11. Now some in the GOP say it's time for Jones to resign. Here's senior White House correspondent Bill Plante.
BILL PLANTE: Van Jones is a White House advisor for environmentally friendly jobs, but provocative statements he made before he joined the administration have sparked conservative outrage. In a speech last year, Jones joked about what he called President Bush's addiction to oil.
VAN JONES, JUNE 28, 2008: I hope I don't offend anybody, but the President of the United States sounded like a crack head when he said that. Like a crack head trying to lick the crack pipe for a fix.
PLANTE: Jones' take no prisoners rhetoric is no ricocheting around the Internet. In this meeting from February, just before he joined the White House team, Jones responded to an audience question about why Democrats were not as successful as Republicans.
JONES, FEBRUARY 11: Well, the answer to that is they're [bleep]holes and Barack Obama's not a [bleep]hole. So some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama are going to have to start getting a little bit uppity.
PLANTE: Jones has long been an outspoken advocate for liberal causes, lashing out in 2007 against unequal justice for African-Americans.
JONES, JANUARY 5, 2007: You don't have to call somebody the "n" word if you can call them a felon.
PLANTE: What's prompted the most outrage is Jones' signature on the 2004 petition of a so-called 9/11 truth organization, calling for "immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur." In a statement issued by the White House, Jones said: "If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize. As for the petition, I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever."
Friends say Jones told them he had not read the petition before he signed it. But angry conservatives say remarks made last month by White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett suggest that the White House was very familiar with Jones' activism.
VALERIE JARRETT, AUGUST 15 in C-SPAN VIDEO: Van Jones, we were so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House. We've been watching him really for, he's not that old, for as long as he's been active out of Oakland and all of the ways that he has, the creative ideas that he has. So now we have captured that.
PLANTE: White House spokesman Robert Gibbs today would say only that Jones continues to work at the White House. Not exactly a full embrace. But it is classic Washington speak for "let's see how this all plays out." Bill Plante, CBS News, the White House.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center