WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on Friday blasted a group of liberal lawmakers and left-leaning outlets for what he called an “assault on the First Amendment.”
In a call with reporters, Jordan slammed a long list of media organizations, liberal and conservative, for what he said was their efforts to trample on freedom of speech. Jordan’s remarks were made in response to a column by CNN commentator Van Jones that attacks conservatives’ use of irony and sarcasm in the current political climate.
“They’ve tried to close down reasonable discourse. The goal is not to bridge the gap, the goal is to close it,” Jordan said.
Jones’ column, published Thursday, could be considered a veiled critique of Jordan, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who has repeatedly stood his ground and spoken out against alleged abuses of power by the current administration, namely the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department.
Jordan, though, threw out such attacks on Friday in response to Jones’ column, saying that “the left is not being constructive, they’re being destructive to this country, they are trying to get everybody to be so angry that we shut down productive discourse.”
“The goal is not to bridge the gap, the goal is to shut it down,” Jordan said.
In his column, Jones said conservatives need to start using humor and sarcasm in a “more strategic and strategic way.”
“Let’s resist knee-jerk opposition, let’s stop treating those of us who disagree with us as mere ideologues, let’s start hearing from each other instead of mocking or demonizing each other,” Jones wrote.
Jordan later said the Washington Post should not be counted among those organizations Jones has criticized because, according to Jordan, the Post “has also been constantly attacking conservatives and Republicans.”
One of the more prominent targets on Jones’ list is Jordan, who he said “has gone out of his way to attack other conservatives as racists.”
“I think every conservative should take a look at that and really question what that man has done to get to this point that he’s willing to stoop to using labels and race to attack conservatives,” Jordan said.
After Jones published his column, the Washington Post ran a story on his column under the headline “Commentary: Liberals must avoid crying ‘racism’ at the slightest hint of criticism.”
“Apparently, the ‘post’ that Van says he reads at work is trying to use words to intimidate people into silence,” Jordan said.
Though Jordan focused much of his commentary on CNN, he referred to Jones’ critique as a “Democratic Party effort to shut down legitimate criticism.” He declined to name any liberal figures he would like to see denounced for their partisan attacks, including the former Secretary of State John Kerry, who recently addressed the Brookings Institution as the former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Jordan said his focus as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been on enforcing the laws already on the books.
Jordan has come under scrutiny for the way he tackled the investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative and tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status in 2012. He has denied any knowledge of the IRS targeting.
On Friday, Jordan called CNN a “small-time, propaganda outlet that has a very thin content” and said the network had a tendency to cover “hate speech” and put a “sad tint” on discussion of social issues.
In response to Jordan’s remarks, CNN issued a statement, saying: “Our column did not call out or name any journalist, figure or organization. Van Jones wrote his column on how mainstream media in particular has erred in the past when it comes to equal time for conservatives.”