Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The downfall of Van Jones: a process comment by and about the New York Times

In a story today placing the Van Jones incident in larger context of political infighting and the question of Obama administration czars, the NYT retold the story of Jones' political destruction thus:

Jones' downfall is remarkable for its swift and personal nature.

The story begins with Beck, who called Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people" during a "Fox & Friends" program on July 28. Seeking to back up his claim, Beck cited Jones as a "black nationalist who is also an avowed communist.", a group Jones helped launch in 2005, led an advertising boycott of Beck's show. Major advertisers, including Wal-Mart, Mercedes-Benz and HSBC moved their money elsewhere, but Beck's allies took to the Web.

On Sept. 1, the group began circulating a video of a California speech in which Jones calls Senate Republicans "assholes" for their legislative tactics. The comment -- recorded last February before Jones joined the White House Council on Environmental Quality -- was in response to an audience member who lamented that Democrats were less effective than Republicans in using their majority to pass energy legislation.

Jones' reply: "Well the answer to that is, they're assholes."

He added, "Now, I will say this: I can be an asshole, and some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama, are going to have to start getting a little bit uppity."

Beck made Jones a frequent target on his show, labeling him a "radical who wants to fundamentally change America." Beck reported that Jones participated during the 1990s in the former Bay Area collective STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement), which supported Marxist principles and "militant, direct action."

The Jones story reached a tipping point Sept. 3 when the conservative blog "Gateway Pundit" reported that the best-selling author of "The Green Collar Economy" signed a 2004 petition that called for congressional hearings and other investigations into whether the Bush administration allowed the Sept. 11 attacks to occur as a pretext for war in the oil-rich Middle East.

Mainstream media began asking questions of their own.

An Obama administration source told ABC News that Jones did not carefully review the language in the petition before signing it. Jones underscored that the petition "does not reflect my views now or ever."

It was too late.

I'm not going to talk at all about the justification for Jones' firing or the validity of anybody's comments. Instead, let's diagram the story as the NYT lays it out.

Charge: Glenn Beck [talk radio/cable news--New Media]
Counter: [internet organized political advocacy group--New Media]
Counter to the Counter: [internet special-interest group organized in response--New Media]
Expansion: Gateway Pundit [major rightwing political blog--New Media]

Then the NYT says, after all that:

Mainstream media began asking questions of their own.

So Glenn Beck calls the President a racist and Van Jones a dangerous Marxist radical in the New Media and it is not really news for the MSM?

Color of Change organizes one of the most quickly effective sponsor boycotts in history via the New Media and it is not really news for the MSM?

Beck backers counter with and track down damning video footage of Jones in the New Media and it is not really news for the MSM?

Gateway Pundit takes the story further with the 9/11 Truther petition in the New Media and only then does the story rise to the attention of the MSM?

By the NYT's own admission, It was too late for Jones to save his position by the time the MSM actually got around to covering the story. That means, I think [since a fairly large majority of Americans still does not get its news through the blogosphere or talk radio], that the first time most people even heard of Van jones would have been a day or so before he resigned.

But wasn't the whole story newsworthy for all sorts of reasons?

Are we actually watching an entire category of political stories move out of the general public's sight [even though all the content is there for the asking] because our MSM refuses to acknowledge the existence of its competition until the stories are virtually over?

Ironically, the same studied refusal by the WNJ to acknowledge the Delaware blogosphere until it is absolutely forced to do so appears to exist at the national level.

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