For the past few weeks, the Fox News smear machine has turned its attention to attacking Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools director Kevin Jennings, with the network's fact-free screeds reaching a fever pitch over the past few days. But one voice has been strangely absent from Fox's choir: Glenn Beck.
Beck, of course, has led the charge in Fox's previous assaults on Obama administration personnel. He has been widely credited with the resignations of White House green jobs adviser Van Jones and National Endowment of the Arts communications director Yosi Sergant, and has led a smear campaign against administration appointees whom Beck has lumped into the category of "czar," even writing to followers of his Twitter page "Find everything you can on Cass Sunstein, Mark Lloyd and Carol Browner." And yet, as his colleagues at Fox have lined up to smear Jennings, Beck has been nowhere to be found – in fact, a Nexis search indicates that Beck has NEVER mentioned Jennings on his Fox News program.
Instead, it is Sean Hannity who has stepped up to lead Fox's attacks on Jennings. On September 30, Hannity claimed (citing a Washington Times report) that Jennings covered up a "statutory rape" -- in spite of the evidence the individual involved was at the legal age of consent. Based on this faulty premise, Hannity said he wanted Jennings "fired." This led Greg Sargent and my colleague Jamison Foser to ask whether Hannity was jealous of all the attention Beck has been getting and was viciously smearing Jennings to get the spotlight.
Last night, Hannity devoted much of his program to attacking Jennings, and, in the ultimate "Look at me, look at me" moment, Hannity announced the following "late breaking development":
HANNITY: And there is another late-breaking development tonight. In 1999 Jennings wrote the foreword to a book called "Queering Elementary Education." And I promise you, America, I'm not making this up. Guess who wrote a blurb for the back of the book praising it as, quote, "An important contribution to nourishing the ethical heart of teaching."
You guessed it, our old friend, Bill Ayers.
So with all these new details about Jennings, will he be the next official from team Obama to now have to call it quits?
Education expert Kevin Jennings wrote the forward to a book about education, and education expert William Ayers wrote a blurb for the back. To Hannity, that's a huge story. To everyone else – especially those that read the book's forward, in which Jennings controversially called for valuing "every human being as a precious gift" and looked forward to the day when students could "walk down our streets without fear" -- it's a sad commentary on Hannity's obsession with Ayers and his need for attention.
But while Hannity is having an on-air mid-life crisis over Jennings, Beck has yet to mention the man's name. The carnival music is playing, but the self-described "rodeo clown" isn't responding to his cue. Is it possible that Beck has decided that this smear is so sleazy even he won't touch it? And if so, what could that possibly say about Hannity's own standards?