The dominant media narrative seems to be that Glenn Beck got retribution against Color of Change cofounder Van Jones after that organization led a successful campaign to drive advertisers away from the conservative talking head’s Fox News show.
The real backstory is quite different, and even more interesting.
The elements of the case against Jones — pushed by Beck — are largely true. Apparently Jones did refer to Republicans as “assholes,” an offense against public decency also committed by none other than George Bush in the 2000 campaign when he accidentally got caught — by an open microphone — referring to New York Times reporter Adam Clymer as a “major league asshole.” Bush refused to apologize for that gaffe.
… the comment — recorded last February before Jones joined the White House Council on Environmental Quality — was in response to an audience member who lamented that Democrats were less effective than Republicans in using their majority to pass energy legislation.
Jones’ reply: “Well the answer to that is, they’re assholes.”
He added, “Now, I will say this: I can be an asshole, and some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama, are going to have to start getting a little bit uppity.”
Beck also referred to Jones as a “black nationalist who is also an avowed communist.” This was also apparently true. Some years after his flirtation with communism and other forms of radicalism in his late twenties, Jones had an epiphany of sorts, after realizing that “our little movement … was much more destructive internally than anyone was talking about, and much less impactful externally than anyone was willing to admit.”
Jones’ fixation on solidarity dates from this experience. He took an objective look at the movement’s effectiveness and decided that the changes he was seeking were actually getting farther away. Not only did the left need to be more unified, he decided, it might also benefit from a fundamental shift in tactics. “I realized that there are a lot of people who are capitalists — shudder, shudder — who are really committed to fairly significant change in the economy, and were having bigger impacts than me and a lot of my friends with our protest signs,” he said.
First, he discarded the hostility and antagonism with which he had previously greeted the world, which he said was part of the ego-driven romance of being seen as a revolutionary. “Before, we would fight anybody, any time,” he said. “No concession was good enough; we never said ‘Thank you.’ Now, I put the issues and constituencies first. I’ll work with anybody, I’ll fight anybody if it will push our issues forward. … I’m willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends.”
Jones apparently realized that he was more likely to succeed by giving up radicalism and working within the system. He was “born again,” you might say.
The final damning piece of the recent brief against Jones is his signature on a petition calling for a full investigation of 9/11, a petition signed by many of the 9/11 widows and families, along with a lot of other distinguished Americans.
Whether all of this adds up to a compelling case against Jones’ fitness for his job in the Obama administration is a question about which people of good will may differ.
But even more interesting — and probably more important — is this question: Who really set in motion the case against Jones? And why? And what are they planning to do next?
The definitive account of the true backstory must surely be this:
Big Business’s Hidden Hand in the Smear Job on Van Jones
By Adele M. Stan, AlterNet. Posted September 8, 2009.
When word of Jones’ resignation from his White House post hit the airwaves, Americans for Prosperity’s Phil Kerpen, the group’s policy director, wasted no time in taking personal credit. In his column on FoxNews.com, Kerpen wrote, “The Van Jones affair … is one of the most significant things I’ve ever had the honor of being involved in.”
Progressives first became familiar with Americans for Prosperity because of its role, along with Beck’s 9-12 Project, in organizing the disruption of town hall meetings across the country at which members of Congress were scheduled to discuss pending health care reform legislation with their constituents.
Many assumed the AFP astroturfers, who are not required to disclose their funding sources, were aligned specifically with health care interests — and indeed they may be aligned with some. Look a little closer, though, and you’ll find at the top of their agenda the derailment of energy reform, especially the cap-and-trade formula for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
Naming defeat of clean-energy legislation his “No. 1 legislative priority,” Kerpen, in his Fox column, details his role in demonizing Jones in the right-wing echo chamber from which Jones, as an Obama aide, could not escape.
By his own account, Kerpen’s quest to fell Jones began on July 9 — weeks before Color of Change began to organize against Beck — when he was asked to appear on Fox & Friends to explain “what green jobs are”; and to discuss Obama’s green-jobs “czar,” Jones.
Get that? The successful campaign to derail Jones — if Kerpen is truthful — was launched prior to Beck’s comment on “Fox Friends” on July 28th that provoked the advertiser boycott against him!
Why would Americans for Prosperity have it in for Jones? Sourcewatch Encyclopedia has a lot of in-depth information on that organization’s interests and activities:
The AFP is the third largest recipient of funding from the Koch Family Foundations, behind the Cato Institute and the George Mason University Foundation. Before 2003, when the AFP was still named the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, it received $18,460,912 in funding. 84% of that funding came from the Koch Family Foundations ($12,906,712) and the Scaife Family Foundations ($2,510,000). Koch Family Foundations is funded by Koch Industries. According to Forbes, Koch Industries is the second largest privately-held company, and the largest privately owned energy company, in the United States. Koch industries has made its money in the oil business, primarily oil refining. Presently, it holds stakes in pipelines, refineries, fertilizer, forest products, and chemical technology. Americans for Prosperity is also connected to oil giant ExxonMobil. According to ExxonSecrets, between the years 1998-2001, Citizens for A Sound Economy and Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation received $380,250 from ExxonMobil.
Let’s restate the question: Why would energy business interests have it in for Jones? Adele Stan puts it this way:
Jones’ approach includes the greening of American cities, the development of green jobs for inner-city citizens — and especially for repatriating ex-convicts into civil society — as well as wonky remedies like cap-and-trade.
It’s a fully integrated vision. As Jones told me in an interview last year, “If you … have to break up with oil and coal, you may as well break up with poverty and a bunch of other stuff.”
So what’s next? Here’s how Kerpen himself explains it:
Now that Jones has resigned, we need to follow through with two critical policy victories. First, stop cap-and-trade, which could send these green groups trillions, and second repeal the unspent portion of the stimulus bill, which stands to give them billions. The Van Jones affair is, as President Obama likes to say, a “teachable moment,” and we need to put not just him but the whole corrupt “green jobs” concept outside the bounds of the political mainstream.
Stay tuned for the next battle.
The war never ends.