If your main source for news is reading The New York Times print edition, then you likely are just learning for the first time in Monday’s paper about the resignation over the weekend from Obama administration’s Green Czar, Van Jones.
But that’s not all – you’ll also likely have no idea about the firestorm of controversy that’s been going on for days, and even weeks by some counts, surrounding provocative statements and beliefs Jones has made in the past.
The New York Times, like many of the mainstream broadcast networks, ignored the mounting heat Jones was getting and the video that was surfacing of his comments.
Fox News Channel’s daytime shows, the newsgathering and reporting arm of the cable channel, first noted the controversy on Wednesday, September 2 after remarks surfaced from February 2009 where Jones called Republicans, “a**holes.” Fox News commentator and opinion host, Glenn Beck has been hammering at Obama’s czars, including Jones, for weeks.
Fox News continued to report the story through the rest of last week and through the weekend.
On Friday, there was an off-camera, on-the-record White House briefing that included reaction from White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs. The spokesman said, "He [Jones] continues to work in this administration." And then on Van Jones and two links to 9/11 investigation of possible government complicity: "it's not something the president agrees with."
It’s also worth noting this was happening on a Friday going into a holiday weekend, which can be a very quiet news time and journalists are looking for fresh content to fill their papers and shows.
But for the most part, there was radio silence among the nation’s biggest political papers and broadcast news shows, even after the White House had issued an on-the-record reaction.
Here’s the rundown of coverage from print and broadcast news outlets on the Jones ordeal:
• Wednesday, September 2 – no mention from CBS, NBC, ABC or The Washington Post & The New York Times.
• Thursday, September 3 – no mention from CBS, NBC, ABC or The Washington Post & The New York Times print editions. (A Washington Post blog picks up the story eventually).
• Friday, September 4 – ABC & NBC do not cover the story on their broadcasts, CBS evening news files a report from Bill Plante.
• Saturday, September 5—no mention from CBS, NBC or ABC on the evening newscasts or The New York Times print edition (Their blog The Caucus does pick it up eventually). The Washington Post runs a story in their print edition about the White House being quiet about the controversy.
• Sunday, September 6—no mention from The New York Times or The Washington Post early print editions (the story breaks overnight and is too late for print). All evening newscasts pick up the story high in their shows.
• Monday, September 7 – The New York Times morning print edition runs its first mention of the story on a front page, under- the-fold piece.
• (Note: CNN’s Lou Dobbs references Van Jones on September 3, and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann airs Beck clips and talks about Van Jones, but largely talks about Beck’s attacks on Rockefeller).
The booming calls for Jones’ resignation and questions over his ability to land such a position wasn’t just coming from Republicans, although the conservative blogosphere heavily picked up the issue. Democrats and security experts weighed in, wondering how Van Jones could have passed thorough and lengthy background checks and still landed the job.
Obama has named nearly three dozen czars in his administration, on topics ranging from cars to manufacturing (the manufacturing one just named Monday). Critics assail that czars, unlike cabinet positions, do not face Senate confirmation and therefore are allowed access and influence to the president without the proper checks and balances.
Among the most controversial stances Jones has taken include that he was a former self-avowed Marxist and anarchist, bringing race into Columbine massacre saying that black kids aren’t involved in mass school shootings, the fact that Jones signed a petition for the 9/11 so-called “truther” movement which supported beliefs the United states was part of the attack, and the strong language against republicans.
Jones is also a New York Times best-selling author for his book The Green Collar Economy, Yale law school grad, civil rights activist and was named by Time Magazine in 2008 as one of their “Environmental Heroes.”