Glenn Beck Is Still Smearing Van Jones, Even After Jones Takes High Road Preaching 'Love' for Fox Host
Continued from previous page
From July 23 to September 5 of last year, Beck used much of his four hours of daily national airtime as an anvil on which to pound away at Van Jones. Throughout the campaign he crudely sought to blend the activist's face into several other themes that had already been cultivated as intertwined bugaboos in the conservative mind: Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright, black nationalism, revolutionary communism, climate change policy, "street" community organizing, and the very ideas of social and economic justice.
Only on AM radio and Fox News could this effort not only go unchallenged, but actually gain traction. For years, Jones had been making his name on the cutting-edge of capitalism, famous for looking not back to Beck's favorite century—the eighteenth—but forward to the twenty-second. Whatever stale slogans Jones once uttered as a younger man, anyone who followed the debates over energy and environment with even one eye half-open understood that in 2009 Jones was a darling of Silicon Valley and a gifted builder of coalitions and consensus.
It would be an accurate but meaningless understatement to say that Beck has never been in command of the facts when it comes to Van Jones. Facts were always completely beside the point. There was a very specific purpose to Beck's first wild attack on Obama's green jobs czar, a purpose that had nothing to do with Jones' actual record, or what that record might say about the president. The real target was the Democrats' environmental agenda, centered on a miserable piece of legislation known as cap-and-trade.
It was a man named Phil Kerpen, not Glenn Beck, who decided Jones would make a fine piñata. Along with coordinating the legislative agenda for Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded policy shop, Kerpen produces a daily podcast called Washington Update and writes regularly for a number of conservative outlets such as Fox Forum and the National Review Online . He's also a frequent guest on Glenn Beck.
Kerpen's top legislative priority for Summer 2009 was defeating the Democrats' cap-and-trade bill. In this he had no shortage of media allies. Throughout the spring and into summer, conservative commentators routinely trashed the legislation, which they dubbed "crap and tax." But it was always overshadowed by the debate over health-care reform. Because electric bills are less personal than doctor's visits, Kerpen was faced with a challenge: How to maintain the level of conservative awareness about and opposition to the bill and other pieces of the White House environmental agenda? How to divert attention from the fact that conservatives had no positive agenda of their own? Kerpen was mulling over this question in early July when he found a newspaper profile of Obama's young green jobs czar, Van Jones.
The article, published in 2005 by the Bay Area weekly East Bay Express , detailed Jones' radical political activities during the early and mid-1990s, most notably his involvement with an organization called Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM). The profile explained that Jones had outgrown revolutionary communism by 1996, but for Kerpen this was good enough. If Jones' past could be connected to the present, it would put a scary radical face on the Obama administration's moderate environmental agenda, from cap-and-trade to green jobs. "I couldn't believe what I found," Kerpen later wrote about his discovery on FoxNews.com.
Kerpen emailed the article to Beck's Fox News producer on July 9. He attached the following note: "Please share with Glenn this article about green jobs czar Van Jones, a self-described communist who was radicalized in jail. Confirms ‘watermelon' hypothesis." Kerpen knew that Beck would understand the watermelon reference because two weeks earlier he had discussed the hypothesis with him on Fox News. During a June 26 appearance on Glenn Beck , Kerpen described the cap-and-trade bill as having "the thinnest green on the outside, [but] inside, it's deep communist red."