CNN commentator Van Jones joined The View on Friday morning to talk about the new documentary about American “unity” he co-produced with Meghan McCain. But first, McCain’s co-host took Jones to task for crying tears of joy after Joe Biden’s win after having secretly worked with the Trump administration.
“Now Van, you do spend a lot of time threading the middle and trying to unite people,” Sunny Hostin began. “But there are those who accuse you of being a political opportunist—a chameleon, so to speak—who provided racial cover for former, disgraced, twice impeached President Trump.”
Jones smiled tensely on one side of the screen as Hostin read aloud some of the praising words he has said about Trump not getting “enough credit” for helping the Black community.
“Yet just recently you cried on CNN when Joe Biden was elected the 46th president, and you said it’s easier to be a parent now, character matters now, truth matters,” she continued. “You even mentioned George Floyd and said a lot of people felt they couldn’t breathe. People in the Black community don’t trust you anymore. What is your response?”
Shaking his head, Jones replied, “Well, I don’t think that’s true,” and accused the host of taking his words out of context.
“People may not like everything I’ve said on television and I try to be balanced,” the CNN pundit said. “But look at what I have done. Who among my critics have been able to get people together to help folks at the bottom? When we fight like this about everything and you can’t give anybody even a little bit of credit for anything, who it hurts is not the politicians, it’s not the pundits, it’s regular folks who don't have anything.”
“I’m never going to apologize for putting the interest of people at the bottom first,” he added defiantly. “People need champions. Whoever is in that White House, you have a responsibility to go in there and advocate and try to get people home out of prison. I’m going to keep doing it, whoever is in that White House.”
In the following segment, McCain tried to defend her friend, but she may not have done him any favors.
“I want to say you have been such a life raft to me, and given me so much hope to live in the spirit of how my dad taught me to,” she said. “And a lot of people come up to me almost hourly saying, ‘I loved your dad, I loved your dad, I loved your dad, we need more like him.’ Well, do you know what he did? He worked with the other side all the time. That’s what he did. And he made hard choices and he was bipartisan, and he saw the good in people.”
While McCain said she doesn’t think there’s “any way to come to the table with extremists who traffic in dangerous dog whistles and conspiracy theories,” she does worry “about the path we’re headed down if we write off a huge swath of this country as irredeemable.”
Similarly, Jones said that if Democrats want to “throw away” the 75 million people who voted for Trump, “your trash you just threw away could become the Proud Boys’ treasure, it could become the Nazis’ treasure.”
But the pile-on continued when co-host Ana Navarro had her turn to question him. “Sunny is right,” she said. “You’ve lost a lot of people who trusted you and who saw you as a voice because of the positions you took during Trump.”
After noting that Jared Kushner wanted Jones fired from CNN during the 2016 campaign, Navarro continued, “Then, all of a sudden, you show up working with nepotism Barbie and nepotism Ken”—a reference to Kushner and Ivanka Trump—“and showing up in pictures with Eric Trump and Candace Owens.”
“So I think there are people who wonder, and I’m one of them, how did that evolution happen?” Navarro asked. “How did you go from being this very principled critic of the Trump administration as I was to all of a sudden, being in the White House celebrating with them?”
Jones once again denied that there was any “evolution” in his stance, saying he’s “proud” of the work he did with the Trump administration and has no “regrets.”