Van Jones Considers Legal Action Against Fox News, Demands Glenn Beck Retraction
Jones, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who resigned from his job as White House “green jobs” czar following the conservative host's repeated claims that he was a subversive and a Communist, is considering legal action against Beck-employer Fox News.
Jones’ attorney sent a cease and desist letter Monday to Dianne Brandi, the network’s executive vice president for legal & business affairs, claiming that “a series of sensational and inflammatory charges” have been made against Jones on Fox News shows. The statements, his attorney Joseph Sandler argues, are “demonstrably, unequivocally and absolutely false.”
Read the full letter below.
In a six-page letter, the letter says that Jones has been called “radical revolutionary” (Beck), “an avowed Communist and 9/11 truther” (Sean Hannity), and a “far left kook, Communist guy” (Bill O’Reilly), to name just a few of the disputed allegations.
“Mr. Jones is not a member of any Communist Party or Marxist organization whatsoever, and has not expressed any support for any form of Communist or Marxist ideology for many years," Sandler wrote. He added that such statements are “demonstrably and unequivocally false” and were made to “injure Mr. Jones in his professional and community standing.”
“They are actionable as a matter of law,” Sandler writes.
Jones’ attorney also disputes a variety of other allegations made on Fox News, including that his client is “violent,” “racist,” “spent time in jail,” supports violence against police officers and is essentially anti-American.
As for the truther allegation? “Mr. Jones has never advocated or expressed support for any theory that the 9/11 terrorist attack was the result of a conspiracy involving the U.S. Government,” Sandler wrote.
On Jones’ behalf, Sandler demands that Fox News “immediately cease and desist from further dissemination of the above-quoted statements or any statements similar in substance” while also broadcasting “an express and specific retraction of these statements” on Beck’s show. His attorney asks Fox News to respond by June 24. If the network does not, he writes, “we are to explore all available legal remedies to address the injury caused by Mr. Jones by these false and defamatory statements.”
It is more than a bit peculiar that Jones has chosen just now to finally speak up. While in the White House, he was reticent as Beck spent night after night combing his resume and record for incendiary bits. Even after resigning from the administration, Jones insisted on playing a turn-the-other-cheek role in respect to his nemesis. His first public comments outside of the administration were spent expressing "love" for Beck and referring to him as his "fellow countryman."
Why, more than two years after the fact, is he just now demanding that Fox News stop broadcasting what he and those around him have insisted are demonstrable lies? After all, as more than one progressive activist pointed out, Beck is closing out his time on Fox News. There is, likely, only limited upside towards engaging now.
Jones, said in an email to the Huffington Post that he has "given multiple speeches and TV interviews rebutting Beck's unrelenting smears" over the past few years, including a private hour-long chat with Beck's producer. Over that time period, he added, the accusations and the political climate grew only more incendiary.
"I thought that FOX TV or Beck's producers would take note of the facts and rein him in, without me having to take legal action. They didn't," he said. "Then [Rep.] Gabby Giffords was shot. I talked directly to Beck's producer for about an hour, setting the record straight. We had a friendly conversation. But rather than stopping his smear campaign, Beck chose to double down on the crazy. I was shocked. Then out of nowhere, he attacked the American Dream itself - and the growing movement of people who want to defend and rebuild it. That was the last straw. Even my patience has a limit."
Jones has, over time, taken on a more public role as a progressive advocate than he ever occupied before his time with Obama. In addition to his fellowship at the Center for American Progress, he has been doing speaking tours to discuss not only his first passion -- green jobs -- but also the economic woes at large. His most recent venture is to team up with MoveOn for a major event to refocus the political conversation away from deficit reduction and on to job creation. A high-profile tiff with his media adversary gives the event a flair that it may have otherwise lacked.
A Fox News spokeswoman did not immediately respond for comment.
This story has been updated to include comment from Van Jones.