WaPo's Dana Milbank Pushes Lie About Van Jones and Occupy
On June 18, Van Jones gave a hard-hitting speech to progressive activists in which he praised the Occupy movement while chiding the older, more established iterations of left-wing activism for abandoning the cause because of disappointment in President Barack Obama. But if you read Dana Milbank's coverage in the Washington Post, you'd think precisely the opposite had happened. In a piece representing either the worst of lazy-reporter hackery or outright dishonesty, Milbank wrote that Jones used his speech to slam the Occupy movement -- a false charge if there ever was one. (Video of Jones' speech appears at the end of this post.)
And then at least 17 other newspapers across the nation picked up Milbank's column, spreading a false narrative that, three days later, the Washington Post has yet to correct.
Jones essentially laid into the national liberal establishment -- the institutions of the anti-war movement, the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the environmental movement -- for failing to act with gusto in the current presidential campaign, and for abandoning the recall effort in Wisconsin. Here's how he stated it (emphasis added):
I'm seeing the people who fought the hardest in the decade that Dr. [Melissa Harris-]Perry just talked about now fighting the least. I'm seeing a movement that was built up over that decade -- that stood up against Bush, that stood up against Rove, that stood up against Cheney, that stood up against torture, that stood up against war, that stood up for the people who were suffering in [Hurricane] Katrina.., who saw that there was nothing in Washington, D.C., that would answer the call and who stood up and insisted that we g in a better way -- I'm seeing that movement that broke the stranglehold that Karl Rove had on our Congress, that elected the first African American president, I'm watching that movement that inspired the world, that shocked the world, that stunned the world, in the moment of maximum peril now, sit down.
As a contrast, as examples of courage in the face of opposition, he used the examples of the "young people" of the DREAM Act movement, the anti-Keystone movement, the LGBT rights movement -- and the Occupy movement:
Look at the young people who rescued America last year, coming out of that horrible August when the Tea Party put Congress in a headlock and said, "If you don't do what we say, we're going to blow a hole in the American economy; we're going to destroy America's credit rating." And this whole town trembled in fear and gave in and said, "We'll create a super-committee to do super damage to the American people." And some young people and some strugglin' folks -- no pollsters , no lobbyists, no big grants -- went down with some sleeping bags and some tents to the scene of the crime against their future, and occupied Wall Street, and turned this country upside down.
Here's how Milbank misreported the speech, misrepresenting Jones' critique of the liberal establishment as a slam of the Occupy movement (emphasis added):
The Occupy movement is preoccupied.
In October, when liberal activists gathered in Washington, they had hopes that the nascent Occupy Wall Street movement would become the left’s answer to the tea party.
But this time around — the annual Take Back the American Dream Conference was moved up to June this election year — the Occupy encampments are gone, and participants in the conference were pondering what went wrong. Or, as activist Van Jones put it to them, what has become of “the voice that is missing.”
Jones, an Obama administration official who resigned under pressure because of his far-left positions, is a fixture at the annual gatherings and a fiery orator. But this version of his yearly pep talk was laced with disappointment. “I’m watching that movement that inspired the world . . . that stunned the world, in the moment of maximum peril now sit down,” he lamented at the opening session...
The Washington Post is a place of employment for many fine journalists. Dana Milbank isn't one of them. He's either the essence of a lazy journalist or an outright prevaricator, deliberately picking quotes out of context to suit his predetermined theme. If you agree, you can send your respectfully stated objections to Milbank's so-called reporting to Patrick Pexton, the paper's ombudsman: firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2009, AlterNet took Milbank to task for essentially calling Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a "bitch" in what was supposed to be a humor video posted on the Washington Post site. While Milbank's video co-star, Chris Cillizza, apologized, and Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli kinda-sorta did, too, Milbank remained unrepentant and kept his job.
Here's the video of Van Jones' speech.