Robert Knight: Media Bite into ‘Vetting’ Apple
This column originally appeared on Townhall.com on September 9, 2009.
Have you ever been to a White House event?
I have. Before they let me anywhere near the place, I had to submit basic info that allowed them to vet me. But that was back when W lived there.
When someone is appointed to a federal executive post, the vetting process is far more elaborate. The Secret Service understandably wants to know who’s within spittin’ distance of the president. The White House staff want to know if there’s anything lurking in the past that will jump out and bite them. The media want to know whether there’s anything they can use to fit those teeth for the bite.
Which is why the media’s excuse for Obama’s choosing radical Van Jones as “Green Jobs” czar is so absurd.
The official line they’ve all swallowed (or at least use) is that poor Mr. Obama must have been misinformed about Mr. Jones. On Sept. 7, the Washington Post ran this headline exculpating Obama: “In Adviser’s Resignation, Vetting Bites Obama.” Yeah, that’s the ticket. The article quotes an anonymous “White House official” who says that “Jones’s past was not studied as intensively as that of other advisers because of his relatively low rank.”
A far more likely explanation is that the Obama team knew full well what Jones was about and saw no problem. As a disciple of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, why would Barack recoil from a guy who was using Alinsky’s methods to a T? Besides, it’s clear the White House was thrilled with Jones’ past. Fox’s Glenn Beck ran tape of White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett boasting that they had been watching Jones’ activities for years and finally “were so delighted to recruit him into the White House.”
From The Washington Post to the Los Angeles Times, to the TV networks and news magazines, they ignored the growing controversy over Jones’ communist background as it built over the past couple of weeks. Beck led the charge, along with Breitbart.com and on blogs such as Gateway Pundit, which broke the story about Jones being a 9/11 “truther.” The “truthers” are the guys in tinfoil hats who say the Bush Administration either knew about the attacks beforehand or was complicit. Back on April 6, the New Zealand blogger Trevor Loudon actually broke the story about Jones being a “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist,” as noted by Accuracy in Media, which had submitted a series of Freedom of Information Act requests about Jones’ hiring. The New York Times did not cover any of this until Jones resigned on Sept. 6.
At the schizophrenic Wall Street Journal, the truth-telling editorial page noted on Sept. 8 that Jones “has been a leading young light of the leftwing political movement for many years” with a “long trail of extreme comments and left-wing organizations.” Meanwhile, some leftwing activists posing as reporters over on the news page blamed “the right” and said Jones “resigned, after conservatives seized on a series of controversial statements.” Great seizers’ ghost!
Jones did not exactly go quietly. His written statement says that “opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.” Well, for it to be a smear or lie, it’s got to be inaccurate. Even the drive-by media have finally reported the ugly facts about Jones’ involvement with the “truthers,” and as a founder of the now-disbanded Bay Area communist group Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM).
The Post delicately describes STORM as having “Marxist roots.” Yes, and trunk and branches and fruit. Reclaiming Revolution, a history of the organization published in 2004, relates that it was an outgrowth of the early ’90s group Roots Against War (RAW), which “laid the groundwork for the next decade of revolutionary politics among young people of color in the Bay Area.” (p. 5) A quick analysis is available on the website of Reformed evangelical conservative David Westerfield. After RAW disbanded in 1992, the activists reformed as STORM in 1994, with “a political commitment to the fundamental ideas of Marxism-Leninism” (p. 51). STORM disbanded in December 2002.
Contrast the utter lack of interest in this juicy story with the Washington Post‘s multiple-article obsession, editorial and cartoons over a research paper advocating Christian views of public policy written by Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Robert McDonnell in 1989 — twenty years ago. The Post sure has a nose for scandal. Are Woodward and Bernstein embarrassed yet?
One of the less important charges against Jones was his public use of the a-word to describe Republicans who are resisting the health care takeover. The Left routinely uses foul language, so this unwise remark should not have come as a surprise. To sample the gutter terms, take a peek at the leftie Websites Huffington Post or MoveOn. Leftists flavor their commentary with profanity the way cows fertilize a field. But who can blame the Left for venting? It’s been a whole seven months, and we still don’t have communism, just major elements of socialism and a scheme to saddle our children and grandchildren with literally trillions in debt.
If the opposition is smart, it will portray Jones as the poster boy for the other party’s radical core. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who called for Jones’ resignation on the day before it happened, has called for inquiries into all of Obama’s “czars.” That’s a good start.
The Left thought their fully owned subsidiary media would protect them against their own worst instincts. Judging by how the media continue to carry water for them over the Jones debacle, you can’t say they aren’t trying.