Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
The ill will between the White House and Glenn Beck is no secret. The popular Fox News host has said he believes President Obama of having "a deep-seated hatred of white people" and mounted relentless on-air campaigns against two administration officials. After he took Van Jones, the "green jobs czar," and Yosi Sergant, the communications director at the National Endowment of Arts, to task for what Beck said was inappropriate political work, both men quickly resigned.
But the Obama-Beck battle could become a full-scale war as Beck trains his sights on White House confidante Valerie Jarrett and the White House moves to defend her.
On Tuesday, Beck went after the president's efforts to help Chicago win the 2016 Olympics, naming Jarrett specifically in a segment with his guest Pat Caddell. Jarrett is currently in Copenhagen, where President and Mrs. Obama will make the case for Chicago to host the Games.
Beck asked Caddell if Jarrett stands to gain if Chicago hosts the Olympics, saying, "Some people say she was a slum lord, and she may personally benefit." Caddell responded: "That's the word. She certainly had a lot of real estate dealings going on." He added later, "Look, Tony Rezko in the end probably will make money off this."
On Wednesday, the White House posted a "Reality Check" on its Web site blog, pushing back directly against Beck and his employer. "Last night Fox News continued its disregard for the facts in an attempt to smear the Administration's efforts to win the Olympics for the United States," wrote Jesse Lee, the White House's online program director. "In the past, hosting the Olympics has been a source of pride and unity for the country, but once again Fox News' Glenn Beck program has shown that nothing is worthy of respect if it can be used as part of a partisan attack to boost ratings."
The post then ticks through Beck's statements one-by-one, with "Rhetoric vs. Reality" points, most of which defend Jarrett. "Valerie Jarrett divested all her investment real estate holdings upon entering government except for a single real estate holding that she was unable to sell... It has nothing to do with the Olympic bid," says one.
Later Wednesday, Beck responded on his Fox News program with a nearly 20-minute discussion of the president's efforts on behalf of Chicago's Summer Games bid. He also connected Jarrett to Jones, Sergant, the NEA and Bill Ayers. "I'm going to spend a few minutes asking you this question: Should Valerie Jarrett be anywhere near the White House and the highest office of the land?" Beck said.
He also now features Jarrett on his Web site at Fox News, asking "Who is Valerie Jarrett?"
The White House's decision not to defend Jones or Sergant led to both men's swift resignations. But Beck's choice of Jarrett, one of Obama's closest friends and advisers, has changed the administration's posture toward Beck and Fox News. At the end of Lee's "Reality Check" post, readers are directed to an external fact-checking Web site "for even more Fox lies" and information "that debunks a false claim about a White House staffer that continues to be repeated by Glenn Beck and others on the network."
Although liberal groups have called on companies to pull their ads from Beck's program, Beck is enjoying the highest ratings of his career, recently posting more than 3.3. million viewers in one day for his late-afternoon show, according to TVNewser.com, a television industry blog. He also is poised to have two books on the New York Times best-seller list. His latest, Arguing with Idiots; How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government, will debut at #1 on the list when it is released later this month.