Rev. Wright redux: Media use Jones controversy to revive Wright smear

››› ››› TOM ALLISON & DIANNA PARKER

Conservative media figures have used the controversy over former White House adviser Van Jones' past statements as an excuse to again link President Obama to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a favorite bogeyman of the conservative media during and after the 2008 presidential campaign. On Fox News, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and Charles Krauthammer have all invoked Wright while discussing Jones in order to question Obama's associations, while on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said, "Van Jones is Jeremiah Wright. ... Van Jones is Obama."

Conservative media use Jones controversy as an excuse to revive Wright smear

Rush Limbaugh: "Van Jones is Jeremiah Wright, is Bill Ayers. ... Van Jones is Obama." On his show, Limbaugh said: "Look it, folks. Van Jones is Jeremiah Wright, is Bill Ayers. It was not an accident that he's in the White House. Van Jones is Obama." He added: "Jeremiah Wright is Obama. There's no difference. The only difference is that some of them make reckless public statements. But in terms of what he believes, Obama's no different than Van Jones -- that's why he was in the White House in the first place as the green jobs czar, dealing with diversity and so forth. The guy hates Republicans, he's a Marxist, he's a communist. He's a 9-11 truther, he's a whacko, he's a nut. He's one of these far-left radicals, and Valerie Jarrett -- who is one of Obama's most trusted left-hand, right-hand people -- put him in there. The administration is full of people like this." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/8/09]

Beck: "Have we heard that before?" On his Fox News show, Beck aired video of Jones' comments, asked, "Does it sound familiar at all? Have we heard that before?" then aired video of Wright. [Glenn Beck, 9/1/09]

On a later show, Beck said: "How many mistakes with close personal friends -- how many mistakes and, 'Oh, I didn't know that about my adviser,' are you going to allow this president to make before you wake up and stand up? Where is Congress? In 20 years at Jeremiah Wright's church, Obama only ever heard the pastor talk about rain-colored, you know, rainbow-colored unicorns." [Glenn Beck, 9/3/09]

O'Reilly: Jones "reminds me of Reverend Wright. ... He's an anti-American guy, we think." While interviewing Beck, O'Reilly said on his Fox News show that Van Jones "reminds me of Reverend Wright," adding, "He's an anti-American guy, we think, and they don't -- the Obama administration doesn't seem to have a problem with that." Beck replied that "[t]his is -- this is a pattern. This isn't about Barack Obama. This isn't about me, certainly, and it's not really even about Van Jones. Van Jones is just one of the most glaring people." [The O'Reilly Factor, 8/26/09]

Krauthammer: Obama "had a history, before he became a candidate, of being around and friends with the likes of Jeremiah Wright." On Special Report, while discussing Jones, Krauthammer said: "What you also learn about the White House is when [adviser Valerie] Jarrett said, as we saw on tape, 'We've been watching him all these years.' Well, that means you have been watching him and you must know something about his history of quite radical politics and statements. And that apparently was undisturbing to Jarrett and to Obama people, and that tells you it's a reflection of the boss. The boss also had a history, before he became a candidate, of being around and friends with the likes of Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers. Liberals scolded us last year -- how irrelevant all of that is, how it is a smear campaign against Obama. But if you live in that environment and you find nothing inherently wrong with that kind of radicalism, then a Van Jones will show up, you will watch him years and years, and you'll think this guy is perfectly mainstream." [Special Report, 9/7/09]

Ronald Kessler: Jones' statements "are rather tame compared with Reverend Jeremiah Wright's statements for 20 years while Barack Obama was in his pews." On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Newsmax chief Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler said: "Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama's closest advisers, recommended this person. There is no way that that would happen unless she and others in the White House knew of his radical reputation. So I think they got exactly what they wanted, and in fact his statements are rather tame compared with Reverend Jeremiah Wright's statements for 20 years while Barack Obama was in his pews. America created the AIDS virus to kill off blacks, created prisons to suppress blacks, Israel's a terrorist state. So, it's not shocking that they would hire someone like this." Host Gregg Jarrett replied, "What are you saying here? What does this tell you about President Obama and the people that he surrounds himself with?" [America's Newsroom, 9/7/09]

Robert Pollock: "It's Reverend Wright all over again." On Fox News, Wall Street Journal editorial features editor Robert Pollock said, "Well, it's Reverend Wright all over again, except this time he's working in the White House." He added: "It makes you wonder when these people are going to stop popping up around Mr. Obama." [Journal Editorial Report, 9/5/09]

Conservative media routinely bring up Wright connection to smear Obama

Hannity can't "get over" his Rev. Wright obsession. Sean Hannity -- who claimed he "broke the story" about Wright during the 2008 campaign -- has mentioned Wright on at least 45 different episodes of his Fox News show since Obama's inauguration. Indeed, his repeated references to Wright -- most recently in discussions about Obama and race relations in America -- have prompted his own guests to comment, "You always want to bring up Reverend Wright," and "Sean, you need to get over it." Hannity has said Obama "is Reverend Wright" and that "he hid it well, but I think he's now implementing and proving me right."

Beck: Wright ties evidence of Obama's "deep-seated hatred for white people." On Fox News, Beck said of Obama: "This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy -- over and over and over again -- who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture -- I don't know what it is. But you can't sit in a pew with Jeremiah Wright for 20 years and not hear some of that stuff and not have it wash over." [Fox & Friends, 7/28/09]

Limbaugh: Wright relationship an "indication of radicalism in Obama." In an interview on Hannity, Limbaugh said: "They wanted him elected because they wanted to reassert their power -- the media here -- in being able to sway public opinion to the result that they wanted. So it didn't -- they were going to cover up the Jeremiah Wright, all these things that give indication of radicalism in Obama -- cover that up, portray him as he wants to be portrayed, somebody who's not to be questioned, somebody who's not to be doubted, we're just supposed to accept and trust because most of these guys came alive and came of age in the civil rights battles of the '60s. It defines who they are." [Hannity, 1/21/09]

Dick Morris: Obama may be a "sleeper agent" channeling Wright's views. On NBC's Today, Fox News contributor Dick Morris asserted, "And the determinant in the election will be whether we believe that Barack Obama is what he appears to be, or is he somebody who's sort of a sleeper agent who really doesn't believe in our system and is more in line with Wright's views?" [Today, 6/24/08]

During campaign, McCain refused to use Obama/Wright attacks, New York Times condemned them as racist

McCain said Obama "does not share" Wright's views, reportedly would not "allow" such attacks. According to a Politico article, Sen. John McCain at one point during the 2008 presidential campaign refused to attack Obama for his relationship with Wright because he "fear[ed] a Wright attack would smack of desperation and racism." From the article:

John McCain is at odds with many of his top advisers over launching a renewed attack on Barack Obama's ties to his long-time pastor and mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, according to campaign sources.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and several top campaign officials see a sharp attack on Wright as the best -- and perhaps last -- chance to rattle Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill. ) and force voters to rethink their support of him. But McCain continues to overrule them, fearing a Wright attack would smack of desperation and racism, the officials said.

[...]

The aides argue that the 20 years that Obama spent in the fiery Wright's pastoral care -- and his later assertion that he knew nothing of his former minister's more extreme statements -- provide an opening to challenge Obama's judgment and honesty in a relevant and politically resonant way.

"He was a central figure in Obama's life, shaping Obama's thinking, and he made the extreme radical comments that are borderline anti-American," the campaign official said.

But McCain will not allow it, according to campaign sources.

"There's a slippery slope in politics on the racial divide, and Sen. McCain made it very clear early on that he did not want to get into that area," a top Republican official said. "I don't want to be known as a racist, and McCain doesn't want to be known as a racist candidate."

[...]

The McCain campaign's decision to cordon off the use of Wright from ads and debates has provoked simmering consternation among many leading Republicans and conservatives, who believe the pastor's fulminations might be the single most effective weapon McCain has left against Obama.

"McCain felt it would be sensed as racially insensitive," the official said. "But more important is that McCain thinks that the bringing of racial religious preaching in black churches into the campaign would potentially have grave consequences for civil society in the United States."

Asked about the issue during the firestorm over it last March, McCain told Sean Hannity on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes": "I think that when people support you, it doesn't mean that you support everything you say. Obviously, those words and those statements are statements that none of us would associate ourselves with. And I don't believe that Sen. Obama would support any of those. ... I do know Sen. Obama. He does not share those views." [Politico, 10/15/08]

New York Times: Republican ad connecting Obama and Wright is "race-baiting." In an editorial, The New York Times wrote that a North Carolina GOP ad "attack[ing] Senator Barack Obama as 'too extreme' for the state" is "[m]anipulative," "[s]hameful," and "[r]ace-baiting." The Times wrote: "The ad is built around the well-known video clip of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. -- Mr. Obama's former pastor -- declaring 'God damn America.' We have said before that we find Rev. Wright's oratory racist. And we have criticized Senator Obama for waiting too long to denounce it. His relationship with the Rev. Wright is undeniably a liability for his campaign. But that's not what this ad is about. The assertion that Mr. Obama is 'just too extreme for North Carolina' is a clear bid to stir bigotry in a Southern state." [New York Times, 4/26/08]

Transcripts

From the September 1 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: But this goes further than whether Van Jones is a capitalist or a communist. I want you to see if you recognize any patterns here. Listen to what Van Jones has said at this same conference back in March.

JONES [video clip]: Native American sisters and brothers who were pushed and bullied and mistreated and shoved into all the land we didn't want, where it was all hot and windy. Well, guess what? Renewable energy. Guess what? Solar industry. Guess what? Wind industry. They now own and control 80 percent of the renewable energy resources.

No more broken treaties. No more broken treaties. Give them the wealth. Give them the wealth. Give them the dignity. Give them the respect that they deserve. No justice on stolen land. We owe them a debt.

BECK: Let me go back up here. Can you believe wealth should be taken from one group and given to another based on race? And should anyone that believes that work with the president of the United States? "Give them the wealth. Give them the wealth." Is that what you voted for? Does it sound familiar at all? Have we heard that before?

WRIGHT [video clip]: We believe God sanctioned the rape and robbery of an entire continent. We believe God ordained African slavery. We believe God makes Europeans superior to Africans and superior to everybody else, too.

BECK: I don't believe that.

From the September 3 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: See, this isn't about Van Jones, because now it's about Valerie Jarrett, too. She knows as well. Valerie, do you agree with these things? You have been following him.

How many mistakes with close personal friends -- how many mistakes and, "Oh, I didn't know that about my adviser," are you going to allow this president to make before you wake up and stand up? Where is Congress?

In 20 years at Jeremiah Wright's church, Obama only ever heard the pastor talk about rain-colored, you know, rainbow-colored unicorns.

From the September 5 edition of Fox News' Journal Editorial Report:

POLLOCK: Well, it's Reverend Wright all over again, except this time he's working in the White House. You remember all those green jobs President Obama talks about creating? Well, his green jobs czar is a guy called Van Jones; he's a radical leftist and race-baiter who has been caught on tape saying things like "white polluters steer poison into minority communities." He signed a petition calling on the New York state attorney general to investigate whether the Bush administration allowed 9-11 to happen as a pretext for war. It makes you wonder when these people are going to stop popping up around Mr. Obama.

From the September 7 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

KRAUTHAMMER: What you also learn about the White House is when Jarrett said, as we saw on tape, "We've been watching him all these years." Well, that means you have been watching him and you must know something about his history of quite radical politics and statements.

And that apparently was undisturbing to Jarrett and to Obama people, and that tells you it's a reflection of the boss. The boss also had a history, before he became a candidate, of being around and friends with the likes of Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers.

Liberals scolded us last year -- how irrelevant all of that is, how it's a smear campaign against Obama. But if you live in that environment and you find nothing inherently wrong with that kind of radicalism, then a Van Jones will show up, you will watch him years and years, and you'll think this guy is perfectly mainstream.

From the September 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

KESSLER: On the vetting, the Secret Service checks people for criminal background, arrest warrants in order to get a White House pass. The FBI also checks to verify the person's background to see if he might have been, let's say, a member of a terrorist group. But none of these checks focuses on political statements such as these. Political statements are supposed to be vetted by the White House staff. And I'm sure they missed a few, but I would say that when you hire anybody from public life, you are aware of his general reputation, regardless of what kind of checks you do, what kind of vetting you do.

Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama's closest advisers, recommended this person. There is no way that that would happen unless she and others in the White House knew of his radical reputation. So I think they got exactly what they wanted, and in fact his statements are rather tame compared with Reverend Jeremiah Wright's statements for 20 years while Barack Obama was in his pews. America created the AIDS virus to kill off blacks, created prisons to suppress blacks, Israel's a terrorist state. So, it's not shocking that they would hire someone like this.

JARRETT: What are you saying here? What does this tell you about President Obama and the people that he surrounds himself with?

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Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Charles Krauthammer
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