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Van Jones Resigns: Fox News Bigots Win A Round, Or So They Think

Reported by Ellen - September 6, 2009 -

I'm sure that unrepentant bigots Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck must be licking their chops along with their pals at Fox News over the resignation of Obama advisor Van Jones late last night. However, this will do nothing to answer the charges of racism that are simmering against Beck and Fox and which have caused 57 advertisers to date to drop advertising on Glenn Beck in the wake of his outrageous comments calling Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people." In fact, if anything, Fox News' obsessive, race-based attacks on Jones say at least as much about them as about Jones.

Instead of having the courage to either defend Beck or renounce him, Fox News Senior Vice President of Programming Bill Shine publicly tried to distance himself and the network from Beck’s remarks by saying his statement represented “his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel.” But the very next sentence gave Beck the go-ahead with a wink and a nod. “As with all commentators in the cable news arena, he is given the freedom to express his opinions.” Then, still without owning up to their tactics, the “fair and balanced” network doubled down on the racist attacks on Obama.

This time, they were just a little coyer and a little slyer about it. Instead of calling Obama a racist outright, they picked on Van Jones, Obama’s “green jobs czar” and called HIM a racist who hates white society. It just so happens that Jones is the now-departed co-founder of ColorOfChange.org, which has organized the amazingly effective advertiser boycott against Beck’s show. Somehow, the “we report, you decide” network never got around to telling their viewers that factor in the equation.

Instead, Fox repeatedly hammered home the guilt-by-association suggestion that if Obama chose Jones, that makes Obama a racist. For example, Sean Hannity called Jones a “race baiter,” and repeatedly complained about him “accusing white polluters of targeting minority communities.” There was no investigation into what Jones meant when he said that, no representative for Jones nor the Obama administration to provide balance, just Hannity’s Greek chorus of like-minded pundits, including Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle and conservative columnist S.E. Cupp, each of whom leveled their own accusations of racism against Jones, coupled with attacks on Obama.

For good measure, Hannity tied Jones to Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the “palling around with terrorists” meme of the campaign. Hannity preened, “Sean Hannity was criticized, you know, up and down because I focused on the radical associations, Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist, Jeremiah Wright. It’s not just him. We have a whole list of ‘em… I think the president IS Jeremiah Wright. I say he IS Bill Ayers, not the terrorist, but the radical Bill Ayers.” It was unstated, but obviously implied (especially with Hannity’s emphasis on Jones’ “anti-white” statements) that Hannity was saying Obama IS the "racist" Jones.

In a self-aggrandizing opening segment that rambled on for about 19 minutes without a break (maybe because he has so few advertisers left), Beck made the same racist-by-association suggestions, including the less-than-subtle rehashing of Wright, but with an additional racism accusation against Rev. Joseph Lowery, an icon of the civil rights movement, a man of many distinctions, degrees and awards, who just received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s worth noting that Lowery had been in Beck’s sights at least since giving the benediction at Obama’s inauguration and on that first day of the Obama administration, Beck was already suggesting that Obama is a racist because of his association with Lowery.

Given their penchant for racial divisiveness and given their eagerness to racially demonize Obama by any means necessary, it’s quite possible that Fox would have gone after Jones even if he had not been associated with ColorOfChange. But it’s hard to imagine that they would have so enthusiastically honed in on someone with such a narrow mandate had they not already seen or placed a target on his back for some reason. After all, HarperCollins, Fox News’ sister company and book publisher, published Jones’ book and they didn’t seem to think he’s a racist radical. Does that make HarperCollins racist radicals, too? As Pareene at Gawker noted in an excellent analysis of how the right wing mobilized to make Jones the villain of the week, it was an orchestrated effort that began with Glenn Beck before he called Obama a racist (though he was surely working up to it). But Fox News, as a network, never seized on Jones as a meme until after ColorOfChange went to work on Beck.

Besides retribution, it’s hard to know what Fox is going to get out of this “victory” of Jones’ resignation. Sure, it’s a safe bet Beck and Hannity will claim vindication or proof that Obama is a racist and/or radical. It’s also a no brainer that the next Obama boogeyman or boogey issue will replace Jones in no time. But how long will they be able to keep up this campaign of racial animosity before it starts to redound upon them? How many more racial attacks will they make on a man who’s half white before the public starts to question the messenger?

Fox News seems to have gambled that their attacks on Jones would somehow justify their own bad behavior or at least distract from it. Along with the “Jones is a racist, therefore Obama must be one” meme is the “See, we were right about Obama being a racist” meme that Hannity came close to articulating outright. But Beck, Hannity and Fox will, in all likelihood, never be able to unearth any inflammatory soundbites from Obama on race. Therefore, the only way to keep “proving” their thesis/defense that Obama – not Beck, nor Hannity nor anyone else at Fox News – is the real racist is to keep finding new secondary, African American targets to accuse. If Beck, Hannity and Fox think that their own records will be lost and forgotten by the netroots in the wake of these shameful shenanigans, they’ve got another thing coming.