NPR Tries to Rehab Van Jones By Claiming 9-11 Truther Signature Was 'Made Up'

Van Jones has received a dramatic rehabilitation from the liberal media after conservative outlets dug out that Jones called himself a communist and signed a 9/11 truther petition, among other radical-left stands. (He also called President Bush a “crackhead” and Republicans “a–holes.”) He’s been reinvented like Sharpton.

But on NPR’s “Tell Me More” on Tuesday, NPR host Michel Martin gave Jones almost 12 minutes of air time. The headline on NPR’s website for the Jones interview was “Green Jobs Guru Back To Energize Progressive Base?” She began by calling the truther petition a “made-up story.” If it was fictional, why was it reported by “mainstream media” (sort of) and why was Jones pressed to resign? Martin began with Earth Day oozing in her introduction:

It was Earth Day this weekend and maybe you were one of the Americans who spent time planting trees or clearing litter from a local park or river. But our next guest has been a strong voice for putting green issues at the top of our national agenda every day. After years as a human rights and environmental activist, Van Jones became a national figure as a special advisor to President Obama for green jobs. He resigned in 2009 after a number of conservative media figures connected him to a petition that questioned who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

When liberal journalists don’t want to admit something, they insist “conservative media figures” were the only ones who stooped to note reality. Here’s what ABC’s Jake Tapper blogged (as the networks tried to pawn off the Jones resignation as a “distraction”):

A top environmental official of the Obama administration issued a statement Thursday apologizing for past incendiary statement and denying that he ever agreed with a 2004 petition on which his name appears...

In a statement issued Thursday evening Jones said of "the petition that was circulated today, I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever." He did not explain how his name came to be on the petition. An administration source said Jones says he did not carefully review the language in the petition before agreeing to add his name.

But NPR pitched it as a lie:

MARTIN: I mean, I think we should get the pain point out up front. You resigned in 2009 after it was reported that you signed a petition questioning who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Did you sign that petition?

JONES: Never signed it, never saw it. And the 9/11 Truth Organization itself came out and said they didn't have a signature for me. But, you know, that's politics.

MARTIN: How do you feel about that now, the fact that this was a made-up story. I mean, you lost your job over a made-up story. How do you feel about your departure?

JONES: Well, you know, it was two and a half years ago, so I've had a lot of time to digest it and to move forward. You know, a lot of people had a bad year in 2008, 2009. (Laughter)

When I first found the interview on the radio on Tuesday, Jones was oddly claiming that Team Obama never claimed to “save” jobs for public-sector workers with the “stimulus” and never argued there were tax cuts in the package – both assertions which are self-evidently false.

MARTIN: So it sounds to me like you're agreeing with those who would argue that both the Tea Party Movement and the Republican leadership successfully have moved the center of gravity to the right.

JONES: Right.

MARTIN: It sounds to me like you're saying they outmaneuvered. the administration and the left in the messaging.

JONES: I agree.

MARTIN: So tell me what the Obama administration did wrong.

JONES: We should have been stronger on our values. And then I think the president missed other opportunities. For instance, like with the stimulus package. A third of the stimulus package was tax cuts. You hear of Bush tax cuts all the time. You never hear of Obama tax cuts, but he cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. Never took credit. Another third of the stimulus - they talked about jobs created or saved. They never talk about the jobs they saved. Cops, firefighters, teachers.

MARTIN: Why not?

JONES: Because I think that they bought into this idea that this was going to be some kind of job creating package and got locked into that argument and only a third of the stimulus was even about jobs. Another third was tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans. The other third was keeping cops on the beat.

When you don't claim your political victories and let the other side define the stimulus for you as a failed jobs package and then you try to argue about how many jobs you created, that is a form of political malpractice in some ways.

What’s “political malpractice” is trying to revise history about 2009 and claim things were “made up” which were not made up and claim Team Obama never made arguments that they made routinely.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis