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Roger L. Simon

Van Jones: Glenn Beck trumps the NYT

September 7th, 2009 - 10:12 am

Mickey Kaus asks some good questions today regarding the NYT Van Jones coverage:

Amazingly, many New York Times print readers still don’t know why Van Jones resigned! Here’s how the paper’s John Broder describes his situation:

The adviser, Van Jones, a controversial and charismatic community organizer and “green jobs” advocate from the San Francisco Bay Area, signed a petition in 2004 questioning whether the Bush administration had allowed the terrorist attacks of September 2001 to provide a pretext for war in the Middle East. [E.A.]

Reading that, would you realize the petition was a Truther petition?

Obviously not. (Incidentally, Jones has claimed he signed the petition by accident when someone waved a clipboard in front of him. But if you look at the list of signers, his full organization name and role are also there. Oh, well, I guess they could have filled that in for him.)

Kaus goes on to reference the earlier Sarah Wheaton report from the Times website that was straight forward about the Truther petition. I had read that report almost immediately after it was published on their site and was pleased to see that, at last, the paper was acknowledging the story. Of course, there was no explanation of why they had ignored the story for months, anymore than there is explanation even now about why the paper published Walter Duranty’s whitewash of Stalin’s mass starvation of Ukrainian peasants in Thirties when other publications were reporting the atrocity that murdered millions. (I could go on – and have.)

But what fascinates in the Times/Broder article is the role of Glenn Beck: Chief among those keeping the story alive was Glenn Beck, the conservative host of a Fox News Channel program. Mr. Beck began criticizing Mr. Jones in July, first in segments on his syndicated talk radio show and then, on July 23, on his Fox News program, said Christopher Balfe, the president of Mr. Beck’s production company.

There’s some reference to Beck’s advertising woes (a subject with which the Times should be familiar) due to Beck’s having called Obama a “racist.” But the substance is that Beck got the scoop. His numbers are going up and NYT’s continue to go down as the Newspaper of Record searches for a new economic model.

Part of the reason for this is pretty obvious. People trust Beck and they don’t trust the NYT. Beck may be biased, but he’s honest about it. The NYT persists in the illusion of even-handed reporting, even when, in a case like the Van Jones scandal, they clearly decided not to run the story for political reasons, but don’t have the cojones to admit it. Or is there another reason? We’re waiting.

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