At the Windy, Dave Weigel traces the cause and effect of a Glenn Beck "investigative" story and outbursts at town hall meetings. After Beck ran a hit piece on Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, referring to him as Obama's "green czar" and accusing him of a radical conspiracy to funnel money from the stimulus bill to "left-leaning allies," his talking points were echoed at a town hall in Indiana.
There's no doubt that Beck is playing a crucial role in fueling the mad, conspiracy-driven town hall events. But he didn't dream up the idea of targeting Jones for being a former communist, and for driving smears that he was part of an evil plot by radical black communists to take over the U.S. government by purloining federal funds for their own insidious uses. Back in April, World Net Daily ran a piece by Aaron Klein, "Will a 'red' help blacks go green? White House appoints 'radical communist' who sees environment as racial issue."
Klein is no stranger to accusing Obama and his allies of being communists with links to terrorists, both domestic and foreign. Last year, in the Nation, Ari Berman detailed Klein's role in circulating accusations of Obama's "terrorist connections." These breathless claims made their way around the conservative media, and eventually into the mainstream media as well. After Obama was elected, Klein focused on red-baiting, penning stories like "Communist Party strategist maps out Obama's agenda."
On August 13, two weeks before Beck's broadcast, Klein's public relations firm sent an email with the subject line, "Obama's 'green jobs czar' worked with terror founder." In that email, he claimed that Jeff Jones, a director of the Apollo Alliance, on whose board Van Jones served, was a founding member of the Weather Underground. Sound familiar? Terrorists, communists, they're all taking over Washington!
But Beck is so tangled in his conspiracy theories that he can't tell a communist from a capitalist. After his Jones broadcast this week, he worried on the air that Obama was going to "seize power overnight" -- raising the communist fears -- but simultaneously claimed that his rival network, MSNBC, which is owned by General Electric, number six on the Fortune 500 list -- is in on the act. It's all quite mad: while asserting that communists were poised to control government coffers, he was insisting that MSNBC is an "organ" of the White House. Next thing you know, Beck will be claiming that Jack Donaghy is a communist terrorist jihadist racist bent on destroying America.