By Jimmy Orr
Does President Obama agree with Jimmy Carter’s charge that Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst last week was racially based?
“It adds to our dialogue,” Gibbs said. “I’m just simply saying that I don’t think the president agrees with him.”
Responding to a question at a town hall meeting in Atlanta Tuesday, Carter said that Wilson’s outburst was rooted in fears of a black president. “I think it’s based on racism,” Carter said. “There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”
As we told you here, Carter’s racism charge resurrected the Wilson controversy, resulting in a flurry of polarized opinions in the blogosphere and the mainstream media.
Gibbs casual demeanor toward the repeated questioning this afternoon seemed to telegraph that it’s not an issue with the White House.
“As I said Sunday, the president does not believe that it is based on the color of his skin,” Gibbs said when first asked about Carter’s comments.
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Gibbs said, “I don’t think the president believes that people are upset because of the color of his skin. I think people are upset because on Monday we celebrate the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse that caused a financial catastrophe unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”
WND’s 5-month series of exposés leads to White House’s 1st casualty
The last straw for Jones was being caught on tape in an expletive-packed rant, directly attacking Republicans in the Senate who he said abused their majority position in the past to push legislation through. He admitted after the statements were released that the comments were “inappropriate” and “offensive.”
“They do not reflect the experience I have had since joining the administration,” Jones said in the statement.
Jones was also linked late last week to efforts suggesting a government role in the Sept. 11 terror attacks and to derogatory comments about Republicans.
When the White House press corps grilled White House press secretary Robert Gibbs about Jones on Friday, a reporter asked how the administration could reject “conspiracy theories” about his birth certificate while employing someone who previously charged the U.S. government with masterminding Sept. 11.
Gibbs said only that Jones “continues to work in the administration,” a non-ringing endorsement that set the stage for his ouster. Jones’ name appeared on a petition calling for congressional hearings and other investigations into whether high-level government officials had orchestrated the 9/11attacks.
Jones flatly said in his statement that he did not agree with the petition’s stand and that “it certainly does not reflect my views, now or ever.”
As for his other comments he made before joining Obama’s team, Jones said: “If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize.”
In April, Aaron Klein, Jerusalem bureau chief for WND.com, broke the first major story on Jones who was identified as a self-described radical communist and “rowdy black nationalist” who said his environmental activism was actually a means to fight for racial and class “justice.”
Succeeding revelations by WND included:
- Jones previously served on the board of an environmental activist group at which a founder of the Weather Underground terrorist organization is a top director.
- Jones was co-founder of a black activist organization that has led a campaign prompting major advertisers to withdraw from Glenn Beck’s top-rated Fox News Channel program. The revelation followed Beck’s reports on WND’s story about Jones’ communist background.
- That Jones and other White House appointees may have been screened by an ACORN associate.
- One day after the 9/11 attacks, Jones led a vigil that expressed solidarity with Arab and Muslim Americans as well as what he called the victims of “U.S. imperialism” around the world.
- Just days before his White House appointment, Jones used a forum at a major youth convention to push for a radical agenda that included spreading the wealth and “changing the whole system.”
- Jones’ Maoist manifesto while leading the group Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM, was scrubbed from the Internet after being revealed by WND.
- Jones was the main speaker at an anti-war rally that urged “resistance” against the U.S. government – a demonstration sponsored by an organization associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party.
- In a 2005 conference, Jones characterized the U.S. as an “apartheid regime” that civil rights workers helped turn into a “struggling, fledgling democracy.”
- Jones signed a petition calling for nationwide “resistance” against police, accusing them of using the 9/11 attacks to carry out policies of torture.
While talk radio and cable television picked up WND’s reporting and increased the pressure on the administration to cut Jones loose, there was no significant press coverage of the scandal by the major U.S. news media until late last week.
Note: Media representatives interested in interviewing WND’s Aaron Klein should e-mail WND.
‘What I think we need to do is have more balance in the programs’
Former president and senior Democratic statesman Bill Clinton has joined a growing drumbeat for government regulation of radio talk shows, claiming the U.S. “ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side.”
WND reported earlier this week when Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, became the second U.S. senator in a week to endorse a return to the ideas behind the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” a policy abandoned under President Reagan in 1987 as unnecessary and unconstitutional.
The policy, originally introduced in 1949, required that radio and television stations with a broadcast license air contrasting views on matters of public importance. The policy made it practically impossible for talk radio to make a profit, because the market would not bear a lineup with an equal number of programs from the left and right. Since the Fairness Doctrine was abandoned, more than 2,000 radio stations – the vast majority identifed as politically conservative – have adopted a talk radio format.
WND also reported when Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told WND columnist Bill Press, “I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else – I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves.”
Clinton’s comments arrived via an interview on the Mario Solis Marich show, which has posted an audio recording of the former president’s statements.
“Essentially, because there’s always been a lot of big money to support the right wing talk shows and, let’s face it, Rush Limbaugh is fairly entertaining even when he’s saying things I think are ridiculous,” Clinton said. “I think the American people know now that we’re in a very serious time. We all need to be questioned. The president, I’m sure, would be the first to admit none of us are right all the time and everything should be debated.”
“With the future of the country hanging in the balance, we shouldn’t be playing petty politics or just going for entertainment,” he said. “What I think we need to do is have more balance in the programs, or have some opportunity for people to offer countervailing opinions,” he said.
“When the Fairness Doctrine was done away with I was not in favor of doing away with it,” Clinton said. “I never minded having somebody be heard who disagreed with me.”
A member of the U.S. House also has weighed in on the issue. At RealClearPolitics.com, a recording has been posted with Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., endorsing the idea.
“I think the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated. The idea of fairness in the media is very important,” he said. “We should have a fair and open system.”
Hinchey said his main focus “as far as the media is concerned” is to “open the process up, and make it more open, more reasonable, more fair, and providing a larger diversity of information so that people can make decisions for themselves.”
Participants on Calderone’s forum warned of the consequences of government regulation of talk shows.
“For all the tirades about Bush as a ‘dictator,’ he never did anything [t]o abridge free speech. Anyone who supports this type of legislation restricting speech is following the true path to tyranny,” said one.
“Conservative Talk Radio is Balance,” added another.
Said a third, “I have no problem with more balance. Just do not legislative it. Get your checkbook out Bill and get it going just the same as Rush did. What could be more fair?”
“There are some liberals in the media that insist the fear of a return of the Censorship Doctrine is an imaginary one that exists only in the heads of paranoid conservative,” commented L. Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, when Harkin made his statements. “Meanwhile, one liberal leader after another publicly states his or her intent to bring it back.”
WND has previously reported other Democratic legislators have tried to claim talk about a reintroduction of the “Fairness Doctrine” is merely conspiracy-mongering by right-wing talk radio and its partisan cheerleaders.
But other Democrats in the Senate and House – and even a few Republicans – have made no secret of their support for such legislation.
“For many, many years, we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country,” Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., told Albuquerque radio station KKOB last year. “I think the country was well-served. I think the public discussion was at a higher level and more intelligent in those days than it has become since.”
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told WYNC’s Bryan Lehrer Show in 2007, “I think the Fairness Doctrine ought to be there and I also think equal time doctrine ought to come back.”
Last June, John Gizzi reported in Human Events a conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in which he asked her if she personally supported revival of the policy.
“Yes,” Pelosi answered.
And as recently as December, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. – who serves on the Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – told the Palo Alto Daily Post she still believes in the “Fairness Doctrine” and will work on bringing it back.
“It should and will affect everyone,” Eshoo pledged.
Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, has said, “Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters. He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible.”
But the debate heated up again recently when Obama singled out Rush Limbaugh, the king of talk radio, for criticism: “You can’t just listen to c and get things done.”