By Mark Memmott

A top Obama administration adviser who has been at the center of controversy in recent days has resigned.

Van Jones, an official at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, blamed a "vicious smear campaign against me." It had been widely reported over the past week that Jones, in 2004, signed on to a petition calling for a Congressional investigation into whether the U.S. government allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen. He also came under fire for a derogatory comment about Republicans.

Word of Jones' involvement with the group that organized the petition about the 9/11 attacks was spread most prominently by Fox News Channel host and conservative commentator Glenn Beck.

Beck, in turn, had been responding to a call from a group that Jones co-founded, ColorOfChange.org, for advertisers to boycott the Fox host's show. ColorofChange issued that call after Beck said President Barack Obama is a racist.

Beck and others had also been spotlighting the obscene comment Jones made -- before joining the White House team -- about Republicans.

In a resignation statement released early today, Jones says that "on the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. ... They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide." Jones had previously said he did not agree with the sentiments expressed in that 2004 petition and that he added his name to it without knowledge of what it was expressing.

The news of Jones' resignation is leading FoxNews.com right now. It's at the top of other news sites as well, including Politico, which writes that:

While the job itself is not that high-profile--special adviser on green jobs--Jones' departure from the position is the first real scalp claimed by the Republican right, which stoked much of the criticism of Jones.

In the political blogosphere, the reactions so far are pretty much along the lines you would expect.

Liberal Oliver Willis says that "of course, under a GOP administration the people with the really kooky ideas become defense secretary or vice president."

Ed Driscoll at the conservative Pajamas Media says the so-called mainstream media are downplaying many of what he says are Jones' objectionable views and past statements.

The conservative Jawa Report speculates that "the only reason he resigned is someone in the White House focused grouped him and the numbers were so bad ... he had to go under the bus. Let's give Gateway Pundit a big thank you he lead this fight."

As for Gateway Pundit, it asks whether "The New York Times (will) finally report on this story now?"

Well, as of this moment, the story is showing up at No. 3 on the NYTimes.com mobile site page and the story is getting similar play on the Times' website.

categories: Obama Administration

8:00 - September 6, 2009