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Just about the only time I can stand to watch CNN is while cycling through news stations on major election nights. In particular, I am always interested in seeing what Van Jones and David Axelrod will say. Of the Democratic panelists, those two are usually the most intriguing to watch because they have actual experience where a lot of other panelists have a lot of enthusiasm and little else to offer.
Jones, in particular, is fascinating because you can really tell that he believes in what he’s saying and he’s not trying to land some one-liner for the soundbite. Even if I don’t agree with him (which is the vast majority of the time), I respect his actual analysis.
So, naturally, he must now be canceled.
There is a hit piece out from The Daily Beast and it does not read like a news article but like someone with a very particular partisan lean is trying to destroy a (former?) ally. Jones’ sin, according to Daily Beast Editor-at-Large Lloyd Grove, is working with the Trump administration in crafting a criminal justice reform executive order.
Jones is still in a bit of hot water with Democrats after he called out white racists on his own side of the aisle as a bigger threat than the KKK, so the idea of him working with the Trump administration on anything was never going to make anyone happy.
If Jones is guilty of anything, it’s that he did not inform CNN’s viewers that he helped with the executive order when he praised it on their network. However, the Daily Beast reads like a condemnation of Jones as a traitor, rather than as someone who was dishonest on the air that time.
Grove uses phrases like “cozying up to the Trump White House” and “ladled praise on a so-called police reform initiative” to really let you know that he’s angry and he’s not being a reporter here, but an opinion writer. However, the piece isn’t filed as an opinion piece. It’s got a big “EXCLUSIVE” label on it and everything. They want you to know that this is NEWS and not OPINION and that ORANGE MAN BAD so therefore VAN JONES BAD.
Keep in mind that Grove, a white man, is upset that Jones, a black man, helped craft a bill that would move the ball down the field on criminal justice reform — an issue that greatly affects the black community. Grove has a BA in English from Yale and his first job “in the business” appears to have been in show business press relations, while Jones graduated from Yale Law School and has been an advocate on race relations and reform for thirty years or so.
This ties a bit into what Bill Maher said this weekend about white people who take the whole anti-racist thing too far. Grove is essentially accusing Van Jones of not being anti-racist enough because he helped the Trump administration and, as we all know, Orange Man Bad.
While he and I won’t agree on practically anything, Jones has been working on race issues and has worked in Barack Obama’s presidential administration. I am pretty sure that makes him more qualified than Grove to determine whether or not he has been a good ally of blacks in America.
Should Jones apologize for being misleading about the executive order? Probably. Should he apologize for trying to help things get done for his community? Absolutely not. He wasn’t being sly, he was trying to get things moving. The fact is that the Trump executive order was the first real push for criminal justice reform in decades, and it was necessary to get that ball rolling. If Jones wanted to help the American black community by working with an administration he otherwise dislikes, that shows maturity and a willingness to not let partisan politics obscure the goal.
Jones should be commended for what he did, not lambasted for it.