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A New York Times profile of Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s top aide, glosses over her family’s radical history, including ties to a top communist activist and to former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers.
The profile, from September 2012, received newfound media attention earlier this week after BuzzFeed.com reported White House efforts to defend Jarrett behind the scenes by circulating glowing talking points about her to other administration officials who were candidates to be interviewed for the Times piece.
The talking points, titled “The Magic of Valerie,” were documented in an upcoming book by Times reporter Mark Leibovich.
“The magic of Valerie is her intellect and her heart,” read the document.
“She is an incredibly kind, caring and thoughtful person with a unique ability to pinpoint the voiceless and shine a light on them and the issues they and the President care about with the ultimate goal of making a difference in people’s lives,” memo said.
“Valerie is the perfect combination of smart, savvy and innovative.
“Valerie has an enormous capacity for both empathy and sympathy.”
“Valerie is someone here who other people inside the building know they can trust.”
Ultimately, the New York Times profile of Jarrett, while mostly positive, was not without criticism.
Reported the Times: “Some of Mr. Obama’s most senior advisers worry – perhaps not entirely without jealousy – that her direct access to the president has at times led to half-baked decision making and unclear lines of authority.”
Radical family ties
However, the Times did not report any of Jarrett’s radical family connections.
Regarding Jarrett’s mother, the Times says only that “her mother had a Chicago street named after her for her work in early childhood education.”
As WND was first to report, Jarrett’s mother, Barbara Taylor Bowman, founded an education initiative alongside Ayers’ family that was funded by Ayers, Obama and ultimately the 2009 “stimulus” legislation.
The Chicago school, the Erikson Institute, focuses on training people who work in early childhood development.
Besides founding Erikson, Bowman was president of the institute from 1994 to 2001 and served as the school’s Irving B. Harris professor of child development.
One of the Erikson Institute’s former trustees and members of the executive committee is the late Thomas Ayers, father of Bill Ayers.
Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers’ wife, also served on the Erikson board.
In his 1998 book, “A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court,” Bill Ayers calls Jarrett’s mother, Bowman, a “neighbor and a friend.”
Obama and Bill Ayers once funded Erikson together. The Erikson Institute was among the first 35 school partnerships awarded funds in December 1995 by the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Ayers was a founder of the Annenberg Challenge; Obama was hired in 1995 as the group’s first chairman.
In 2009, Erickson was awarded just shy of $5 million from Obama’s so-called stimulus legislation.
Frank Marshall Davis connection
The Times profile briefly mentions Jarrett’s grandfather and father but not her father-in-law, who may have been instrumental in introducing her to Obama and who himself is tied to the president.
The profile states her grandfather, Robert Taylor, “built much of Chicago’s public housing,” while “her father was a pioneering doctor.”
The Times reported Obama and Valerie Jarrett “met more than two decades ago, when Ms. Jarrett – a lawyer, like both Obamas – offered Mrs. Obama a job in the Chicago mayor’s office.”
However, Jarrett may have been introduced to the Obamas through her father-in-law, a communist sympathizer who worked with Obama mentor Frank Marshall Davis, as WND was first to report.
Jarrett’s father-in-law, Vernon Jarrett, was an associate of Frank Marshall Davis, the controversial Communist Party activist who has been identified as an early influence on Obama.
Vernon Jarrett and Davis worked together in 1940 in a Communist Party-dominated organization, the Citizen’s Committee to Aid Packing House Workers. The group’s own correspondence, previously uncovered by the New Zeal blog, describes its communist influence. Many of its leaders were tied to the Communist Party.
The pair also frequented the South Side Community Art Center, which was dominated by communists. In addition, Davis and Vernon Jarrett worked in the late 1940s on the communist-influenced, black-run Chicago Defender newspaper.
In 1948, Jarrett started a radio show, “Negro Newsfront,” and went on to become the Chicago Tribune’s first black syndicated columnist.
A Washington Post obituary of Vernon Jarrett notes he “stoked the political embers in Chicago that led to the 1983 election of the city’s first African-American mayor, Harold Washington.”
“Vernon Jarrett was a key influence in Washington’s decision to run for the Chicago mayoralty and remained a key supporter through his four-year tenure,” the newspaper reported.
Obama has hailed Washington’s victory as a motivation for him to move to Chicago from New York. Washington was involved in communist-dominated circles in Chicago.
Vernon Jarrett clearly watched the rise of Obama as an activist. When Obama worked for Project Vote to register black voters with the intent of aiding the senatorial campaign of Carol Moseley Braun, Jones took note. Obama later took over Braun’s Senate seat.
Writing in the Chicago Sun-Times in 1992, Jarrett said: “Good news! Good news! Project Vote, a collectivity of 10 church-based community organizations dedicated to black voter registration, is off and running. … If Project Vote is to reach its goal of registering 150,000 out of an estimated 400,000 unregistered blacks statewide, ‘it must average 10,000 rather than 7,000 every week,’ says Barack Obama, the program’s executive director.”
Valerie Jarrett married Vernon’s son, William Robert Jarrett, in 1983.
In 1987, she got her start in politics, working for Washington as deputy corporation counsel for finance and development. She was deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard Daley, during which time she hired Michelle Robinson, who then was engaged to Obama.
Valerie Jarrett went on to run the finances for Obama’s successful Senate bid in 2004, the year Vernon Jarrett died.