It took Van Jones' resignation, around midnight Saturday night on a
holiday weekend, for ABC and NBC to mention him for the first time in
Sunday morning news shows which broached, but failed to quote, the
insidious "911truth" petition he signed, while ABC's George
Stephanopoulos, seemingly trying to rationalize ABC's spiking of the
subject, came aboard Good Morning America to dismiss the matter as "a
summer squall." Stephanopoulos was impressed by how the White House handled it: "The fact they got it out of the way before the end of the Labor Day weekend,
before his spokespeople like Robert Gibbs, who's appearing on This Week
come on this morning, I think will contain any kind of damage."
That, and a compliant news media. As Bill Kristol observed on Fox News Sunday: "The mainstream media did not cover this story."
Mike Viqueira reported on NBC's Today: "Van Jones, that's the President's 'green gobs' czar, has resigned overnight after it became known that before joining the administration he signed a petition put forward by those who believe that the government had a hand in 9/11." Later, Viqueira relayed how "Jones says he is the victim of a 'vicious smear campaign' from the right, but he says he's resigning because he doesn't want to draw attention from the fights to come this fall over health care and energy and climate change legislation."
On Meet the Press, David Gregory raised Jones with guest David Axelrod and on ABC's This Week Stephanopoulos presumed his viewers were familiar with what Jones had done and said as he failed to cite any of it in asking Robert Gibbs: "He says he is the victim of a 'vicious smear campaign, some people are using lies and distortions to divide the country.' As you know, he's come under fire for past statements and actions. Does the President believe that he's the victim of a vicious smear campaign or does he believe that Jones' actions and words merited resignation?"
The media's disinterest in Jones was noted by Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday:
I was amused by this fact. If you just read the New York Times, you would know nothing about this. The mainstream media did not cover this story. You wouldn't learn about it on network news. The New York Times readers tomorrow morning will pick up the print New York Times and for the first discover that there was a huge controversy about this radical who was at quite a high level of the White House. So it's an interesting case study, I think, where some of the blogs, a guy names Jim Hoff in St. Louis, Missouri who runs a blog called Gateway Pundit, did much more reporting on this than the entire mainstream media.
Same could be said of ABC News, NBC News and MSNBC until Sunday morning.
(The Sunday New York metro area edition of the New York Times did manage to squeeze in a Jones resignation article on page A17, Clay Waters noted earlier today .)
For what interested the networks more than Jones, check my Friday night "ABC & NBC Continue Van Jones Blackout, Instead Tout Obama's 'Transparency' and Rue Attacks on Him ," which reported how only the CBS Evening News did air a full story that night as CNN also caught up to FNC on the topic.
I later added this update to that post:
[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."]
From the Sunday morning, September 6, news shows on ABC and NBC:
ABC's Good Morning America:
RON CLAIBORNE: We begin with that breaking news out of Washington. Van Jones, President Obama's environmental adviser for green jobs, resigned overnight. Jones had been under fire for a number of controversial statements he made, including some related to 9/11 and more recent comments about Republicans. Jones had become a lightning rod for conservatives. GLENN BECK: I want you to take an honest look, a good, hard look at who Van Jones is. We have told you he's an avowed radical communist, revolutionary.
CLAIBORNE: At issue, a petition that Jones signed in 2002, claiming that government officials knew about the 9/11 attacks beforehand. And his membership in an organization that some critics labeled as communist. Then, on Friday, this video surfaced, showing in 2005 Jones saying that mass school shootings are only carried out by white suburban students.
VAN JONES, DECEMBER 2, 2005: You've never seen a Columbine done by a black child. Never. They always say, we can't believe it happened here. We can't believe it was these suburban white kids. It's only them.
CLAIBORNE: And a separate video from earlier this week showed him making derogatory comments about Republicans. He apologized for those remarks. But overnight, in the face of Republican calls for an investigation, Jones said in a statement that he'd become a victim of a quote, "a smear campaign." And that he could not, in his words, "in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past."
KATE SNOW: Let's start with the latest news overnight, of course, the resignation of Van Jones, kind of a familiar arc in Washington where things come out about his past, there's a scandal, there's a controversy and then the resignation in the middle of the night. How bad is this? The middle of a Sunday night? How bad is it?
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's a pretty familiar arc, but I gotta say I've never seen a midnight Saturday resignation. It's not quite the Saturday Night Massacre, by any means. Listen, this is a summer squall. What Van Jones said he shouldn't have said, it was going to cause some problems for the White House. But the fact they got it out of the way before the end of the Labor Day weekend, before his spokespeople like Robert Gibbs, who's appearing on This Week come on this morning, I think will contain any kind of damage. This is someone I'm sure the President didn't want to have to let go, but he had no choice.
LESTER HOLT: Let's first start with the President and when the President gets back to work this week, he'll have a lot on his plate. A new damage control initiative after a sudden White House resignation and a full-court press on health care reform. NBC's Mike Viqueira has more from the White House on the President's week ahead. Mike, good morning. MIKE VIQUEIRA: Good morning, Lester. The President does return from Camp David today ending his vacation, but it does end on a sour note. Van Jones, that's the President's "green gobs" czar, has resigned overnight after it became known that before joining the administration he signed a petition put forward by those who believe that the government had a hand in 9/11. He also made comments comparing George W. Bush to a drug addict....
That White House advisor, Van Jones, says he is the victim of a "vicious smear campaign" from the right, but he says he's resigning because he doesn't want to draw attention from the fights to come this fall over health care and energy and climate change legislation.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center