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Glenn Beck blasts boycott group's co-founder

The Fox News host uses his show to question the background of an Obama administration advisor whose former advocacy organization led a boycott against him.

August 25, 2009|Matea Gold

NEW YORK — Fox News host Glenn Beck used his popular show Monday to attack the background of Van Jones, a White House environmental advisor and co-founder of an African American political advocacy group that organized an advertising boycott of his program.

Beck did not address the boycott spearheaded by Color of Change to protest the talk show host's remark last month that he believes President Obama is "a racist."

Instead, he spent a large share of his program suggesting that Jones, who co-founded Color of Change in 2005, is a radical. Jones now serves as a special advisor for green jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Beck said Jones was twice arrested for political protests and has described himself as a "rowdy black nationalist." The talk show host cast the piece as part of a weeklong examination of Obama's "czars," special advisors to the president who "don't answer to anybody."

"Why is it that such a committed revolutionary has made it so high into the Obama administration as one of his chief advisors?" Beck asked.

Christine Glunz, a spokeswoman for the Council on Environmental Quality, noted that Jones has been lauded as an environmental hero and said his entire focus is on "building clean energy incentives, which create 21st century jobs."

"Glenn Beck is trying to change the subject," said James Rucker, executive director of Color of Change, who noted that Jones has not been active with the group in almost two years. "The issue is his baseless fear mongering."

Beck's assault on Jones came as Color of Change announced that it had secured commitments from 36 companies who pledged not to advertise on Beck's program, including Wal-Mart and Sprint. However, some of the companies listed as signatories -- including Procter & Gamble and AT&T -- told The Times that they did not run spots on Beck's program to begin with.

While the advertising boycott has generated substantial media coverage, a Fox News spokeswoman said companies that have pulled their ads have merely moved their spots to different programs, so it has not had an effect on the network's revenues.

Since his Fox News show began in January, Beck has attracted a sizable audience with his denunciations of the Obama administration and apocalyptic warnings about the country's direction. Late last month, during an appearance on the morning show "Fox & Friends," he accused Obama of having "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."

The flap that ensued did not appear to dampen Beck's viewership. This month, his show has averaged 2.25 million viewers, 99% more than tuned in during the same period last year, when the network aired "America's Election HQ" during the time period. And his ratings are up from July, when "Glenn Beck" averaged 2.05 million viewers.

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matea.gold@latimes.com

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