On Fox & Friends, Fox's Peter Johnson Jr. smeared former Obama special adviser Van Jones as a "self-avowed Marxist," despite a June 20 cease-and-desist letter from Jones' lawyer demanding that Fox News stop repeating its "sensational and inflammatory" attacks on Jones, including the false claim that Jones is a "Marxist." Indeed, in the letter, Jones' lawyer notes that he "is not a member of any Communist Party or Marxist organization" and that he is "firmly pro-market."
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On Fox News, Johnson Smears Jones As A "Self-Avowed Marxist"
Johnson: Van Jones Is A "Self-Avowed Marxist." On the August 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, guest host Peter Johnson Jr. claimed that Van Jones is a "self-avowed Marxist." From Fox & Friends:
JOHNSON: [Van Jones] was the green czar in the Obama administration and he left the White House and that administration, and obviously he has a background -- he's a self-avowed Marxist and has been involved with a lot of interesting organizations over time. And it's interesting to me, I always thought that we would indoctrinate children in the Boy Scout pledge, the Ten Commandments, the time tables. And so, I think maybe we've hit a new low now using children in a political message. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/10/11]
Fox Persists With "Marxist" Smear Even After Receiving Cease-And-Desist Letter From Jones' Lawyer
Cease-And-Desist Letter: Jones Is "Not A Member Of Any Communist Party Or Marxist Organization." In a June 20 letter sent to Fox News executives, lawyers representing Jones noted "a series of sensational and inflammatory charges" made "against Mr. Jones." Among these were the claims that " 'Jones is a Communist'/'revolutionary'/'Marxist.' " From the June 20 cease-and-desist letter:
For nearly two years, on programs broadcast on and by the Fox News Network, a series of sensational and inflammatory charges have been made against Mr. Jones. Each of these statements is demonstrably, unequivocally and absolutely false, and each is clearly defamatory, as set forth below.
Mr. Jones is not a member of any Communist Party or Marxist organization whatsoever, and has not expressed any support for any form of Communist or Marxist ideology for many years. In the same 2005 article in which he Mr. Jones [sic] discussed having had such notions as a young man, he also talked about his growth away from those views.
Mr. Jones has repeatedly clarified that his economic views are firmly pro-market, in numerous speeches, televised interviews, and in the Huffington Post. In fact, Mr. Jones is known as a leading champion of free market solutions to current environmental problems. His best-selling book, THE GREEN-COLLAR ECONOMY (2009), advocates government policies to promote private sector innovation. The World Economic Forum itself has repeatedly honored Mr. Jones' work. He has been called the "green" Jack Kemp, because he shares the late GOP leader's commitment to entrepreneurship as a cure for poverty.
The allegations that Mr. Jones is an "unrepentant communist," "is a Communist," "is a Communist guy" and is a "revolutionary" are thus demonstrably and unequivocally false. Clearly these statements were calculated to, and do, injure Mr. Jones in his professional and community standing and lower him in the estimation of the American public. They are actionable as a matter of law. [Sandler, Reiff, Young & Lamb, P.C., letter to Fox News, 6/20/11]
Letter Demanded That Fox Immediately "Cease And Desist From Further Dissemination Of The Above-Quoted Statements." The letter continued:
On behalf of Mr. Jones, we demand that the FOX News Network (i) immediately cease and desist from further dissemination of the above-quoted statements or any statements similar in substance; and (ii) broadcast on the Glenn Beck Program an express and specific retraction of these statements.
Our client has instructed us that, in the event that the FOX News Network does not immediately cease and desist from further dissemination of the above statements, or does not confirm its intention to comply with the request for a retraction, we are to explore all available legal remedies to address the injury caused to Mr. Jones by these false and defamatory statements. [Sandler, Reiff, Young & Lamb, P.C., letter to Fox News, 6/20/11, emphasis in original]
Indeed, Fox Has A Long History Of Smearing Jones
Beck Led The Fox News Charge Against Van Jones. On his Fox News show, Glenn Beck repeatedly attacked Jones, calling him a "convicted felon" and a "self-avowed radical revolutionary communist." [Media Matters, 4/12/09]
- For the truth behind the false claim that Van Jones is a "convicted felon," SEE HERE.
Fox "News" Division Picked Up The Jones "Controversy." On September 3, 2009, America's Newsroom, Live Desk, and Special Report ran segments on the "controversy" over Jones. Fox News dispatched at least two reporters, Molly Henneberg and James Rosen, to the Jones story. For instance, then-America's Newsroom co-host Megyn Kelly said Jones has a "somewhat radical and sometimes racially-charged past" and asked Henneberg if Jones "described himself as a communist." Kelly further wondered how Jones became a "czar." Live Desk covered Jones' past remarks with Rosen and promoted the results of a nonscientific poll finding that 97 percent of Fox News viewers aren't "satisfied with Van Jones' apology" for past remarks. [Media Matters, 3/16/10]
Jones Resigned; Beck And Fox "Stories" Receive Credit. On September 6, 2009, Jones resigned, citing that he "cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past." The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim noted that "[b]efore Beck mentioned Jones in the last few weeks on his Fox News television show, Jones remained an obscure figure in the administration. After Beck mentioned him, protesters at town hall meetings made Jones a staple of their complaints." In an October 28, 2009, speech (retrieved from the Congressional Record) on the House floor, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) said: "Fox reports the stories that the national media ignore. For example, without Fox News, you might not have heard about the recent ACORN scandal. You might not have heard about the troubling political associations of the President's former green jobs czar, which eventually led to his resignation." [Media Matters, 3/16/10]
Wallace: It Is "Certainly The Case That Van Jones Had A History As A Radical, As A Self-Professed Communist." In a panel discussion about Jones' resignation on the September 6, 2009, edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace stated that "it certainly is the case that Van Jones had a history as a radical, as a self-professed communist, and also, the fact that is -- that he signed a 2004 petition suggesting that there be an investigation of whether or not the government had a role in 9/11." [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 9/6/09]