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Glenn Beck's Crazy Lies About Van Jones

Glenn Beck spent last week smearing Van Jones with misinformation and outright lies. Here's setting the record straight.
 
 
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After smearing White House special advisor Van Jones for days on his show, Glenn Beck said on August 27, 2009: "I want to point out the silence; no one has challenged these facts -- they just attack me personally."

Well, the White House is wise to stay above the fray but someone has to set the record straight. And as the person who first hired Van Jones, initially as a legal intern and later as a legal fellow, I am in a unique position to know the truth.

And the truth is: Beck is fabricating his facts.

For instance: several times on his show, Beck has said or implied that Van went to prison for taking part in the Rodney King riots.

No Criminal Convictions

Van has never served time in any prison. He has never been convicted of any crime. And just to be clear: Van was not even in Los Angeles during those tumultuous days.

I know because he was working for me -- in San Francisco -- when the four Los Angeles police officers were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King. I was the Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area when Van was an intern.

The verdicts came down on April 29, 1992. I remember Van (who was then a legal intern working with me from Yale Law School) coming into my office in San Francisco. Many of us, including Van, sat there together, listening to the news and weeping. We were all in a state of shock. That night, TV showed the tragic images of LA burning.

The next day, when an initially peaceful march in downtown San Francisco devolved into chaos, Van left the area in tears. He was not involved in any destructive activity. He even penned an essay despairing of the violence and the state of the country.

So how can Beck make such unsubstantiated claims?

The True Story (From Someone Who Was There)

This is what really happened. On May 8, 1992, the week AFTER the Rodney King disturbances, I sent a staff attorney and Van out to be legal monitors at a peaceful march in San Francisco. The local police, perhaps understandably nervous, stopped the march and arrested hundreds of people -- including all the legal monitors.

The matter was quickly sorted out; Van and my staff attorney were released within a few hours. All charges against them were dropped. Van was part of a successful class action lawsuit later; the City of San Francisco ultimately compensated him financially for his unjust arrest (a rare outcome).

So the unwarranted arrest at a peaceful march -- for which the charges were dropped and for which Van was financially compensated -- is the sole basis for the smear that he is some kind of dangerous criminal.

Van has spoken often about that difficult period 17 years ago -- and its impact on him, as a young law student. But to imply that he was somehow a rioter who went to prison is absurd. Beck also bizarrely claims that Van was arrested in the Seattle WTO protests. That is just a flat-out falsehood.

You don't have to take my word for it. Arrests and convictions are all a matter of public record. Beck is at best relying on Internet rumors or even inventing claims to boost his ratings.

Beck is no more accurate with present facts than he is with past ones.

Not a Mysterious 'Czar"

 
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