The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Moira Vahey, Free Press, (202) 265-1490 x31

Free Press Calls on Obama Administration to Resist Extremism in the Media

Defends Former Free Press Board Member Van Jones


Van Jones, an adviser to the Obama administration and a former Free
Press board member, resigned from his White House post after being
ruthlessly attacked for weeks in a smear campaign started by Fox News
pundit Glenn Beck. Beck, who has also called President Obama a
"racist," targeted Jones for his background in environmental and civil
rights activism.

Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, issued the following statement:

"Most Americans want affordable health care, good schools and clean
air. But if you watch Glenn Beck's show, you would think the opposite
is true: that the only proponents of these ideas are socialist,
anti-American radicals operating out of the White House basement.

"At Free Press, our focus is on structural media policy, not on
media content. But we take this extraordinary step because what's
happening is so poisonous to American political discourse.

"That Fox News Channel lets Beck use its media megaphone to stir up
hatred and fear of others is repulsive, divisive and beyond all common
sense or decency. By giving Beck a nightly platform for such
McCarthy-esque witch hunts and smear campaigns, the national news
network undermines our democracy. But Fox News is not alone.
Unfortunately, this kind of rant is endemic to a media system that
cares about ratings far more than about the truth.

"Beck has a First Amendment right to stoke prejudice, and we do not
and will not support efforts to silence him. This is not about
censorship; it's about sanity. Our leaders have a responsibility to
condemn fear mongering in all its forms, defend those who are unfairly
attacked, and support a more diverse media system that provides
alternative voices to the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and other
extremists. The lesson from the shameful McCarthy era that culminated
in 1954 is that we must confront the politics of personal attack with
decency, reason and a commitment to more political speech, not less.

"It's time for our elected officials -- from the White House to
local town halls -- to join people across the country in a stand
against agents of fear and misinformation."

Free Press was created to give people a voice in the crucial decisions that shape our media. We believe that positive social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse and independent ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what's actually happening in their communities.

(202) 265-1490