July 23rd, 2010
02:42 PM ET
4 years ago

Former White House adviser: Sherrod incident 'a learning moment'

Van Jones left his administration 'green czar' post in 2009.
Van Jones left his administration 'green czar' post in 2009.

Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - The former White House environmental czar who quit last year after coming under fire from conservative commentators says this week's controversy over the firing of Shirley Sherrod is "a learning moment" for the nation.

Van Jones, who left his post on the Council on Environmental Quality in September 2009, spoke of the forced resignation of the Agriculture Department employee at a session of the Netroots Nation convention of progressive activists Friday.

Jones resigned after six months in office following a firestorm of criticism, particularly from Fox News host Glenn Beck, over some of his views and past statements. He was faulted specifically for a so-called "truther" petition he had signed calling for an investigation into government involvement of the September 11 attacks and derogatory comments he had made about Republicans caught on videotape well before joining the administration.


When he was introduced at the session Friday morning he received a standing ovation from the audience. Many in the progressive community had criticized the administration for not fully supporting Jones when he came under attack.

"Last year I was a White House official," Jones told the audience. "[Now] I have a little bit more time," he said with a laugh.
He said in the last few years "all my dreams and all my nightmares" have been realized.

Regarding the rise in online communications in the last few years Jones said, "We are in a new world...we have never been here before."

Explaining society doesn't have the old gate keepers that vetted stories before they were made public, he said today's information system has taken "big steps forward" but added. "We have taken away our immune system."

"Eventually 5 percent of the nation will have had an experience like mine...then it will be 15 percent," he said. Ultimately, Van Jones said such stories will stop because there will be too much of a reaction.


Filed under: Shirley Sherrod • Van Jones • White House
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Big George in Big D

    Oh crap – now long comes Jones – jumping on the "I've been falsely ...", etc. bandwagon! Jones had no business in the "administration" with his far left ideological opinions and views. Nobama has appointed many of his "like" in the current administration but, when you come from the Chicago machine – that's what we're getting. Look at Holder – letter the NBPP off. Oh my, the blacks yell racisim all the time; in fact they keep it going. But when a white person has experienced reverse racisim, they sure keep their mouths quiet then! The injustice of it all overwhelms me!

    July 23, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  2. BeverlyNC

    It certainly is – never believe a Republican or their lies. They will do and say anything to slander good people. They will completely make up stories to try to fool their ignorant followers. Their propaganda network of FOX is NOT a "news" group. It is a bunch of hate-spewing liars who need to have their FCC license jerked for intentional false reporting.
    It's time for People to wake up to the fact that Hannity, Beck, O'Reilly, and Limbaugh are hate merchants who have no clue what is going on in real America. They sit in their closed-minded studio and make up lies, false stories, hate speech, and pass on their racist Republican views. The only reason they hate President Obama is because he is black and they cannot stand the thought of our nation being led by an incredibly intelligent and successful black man.
    The lesson is it's time to full reject Fox, their idiots, the conservative hate talkers, the racist tea baggers and the do-nothing, we want America to fail Republicans.
    We need to hold these liars accountable and not let these non-leaders with no solutions into any position of power.
    Use your vote wisely and let's rid our Congress of the characterless, no integrity, no honor, do-nothing but criticize, solutionless, leaderless Corporate lovers and anti-American and anti-worker Republicans in November.
    Democrats have worked hard for the PEOPLE and have passed incredibly important legislation to help the PEOPLE. No more insurance abuse. No more bank abuse. Consumer protection rules. Equal pay for women. Unemployment benefit extension, Job creation stimulus. They are moving us forward and standing up for the best interests of working America.
    What have Republicans done? NOTHING. NO votes on all of the above. Called unemployed "lazy", "drug addicts", "don't want to work" and think you can actually live on unemployment checks of $250 (average) per week. Have no solutions for ANY issue. Their plans for the future?

    -Repeal healthcare, financial reform, equal pay for women
    -Eliminate Social Security, Medicare and send seniors to the insurance companies for healthcare – talk about REAL death panels
    -No immigration reform so businesses can use illegal workers for cheap slave labor with no prosecution
    -Continue to let corporations to send our jobs overseas with no penalities
    -No new energy technology so China also owns all the patents on solar, wind, and natural gas.
    -Remove all liability for BP and let taxpayers pay for the Gulf oil disaster
    -Get rid of the Obama tax cuts for the middle class but make sure the Bush tax cuts for the most wealthy Americans are reinstated.

    Doesn't that sound ike more Bush years disasters? That's because it is. Republican want to back to Bush policies saying they worked!!! I guess that's why we are the closest to a Depression since 1929, high unemployment, and lost homes, lost jobs, with ultra rich bankers who cheated us and ultra rich corporations who abused us.

    We need to stand up and take our PEOPLE power back and that is through the Democrats. If you want America to keep moving forward and the People put first, vote for the Democrats because they are the ONLY ones doing any work for America to recover.

    NO Republicans in NOvember!!!!

    July 23, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. gary

    Okay Van Jones has extreme views and shouldn't be in any administration but I do admit that this is a teaching moment, namely:

    1. Anyone of any race can be racist if they get power.
    2. Racism/Prejudice can be over come, people can change and grow.
    3. We all have to stop accusing each other of racism without proof.
    4. We have to listen and understand situations before making decisions.
    5. When we screw up, admit it, fix it and ask for forgiveness.
    6. When someone else screws up and is sorry, forgive.
    7. Don't dwell on other people's inperfections.

    These are lessons that we all can learn.

    July 23, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. Jeremiah B

    Did you forget to note that Van Jones is a self-proclaimed Socialist?

    July 23, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. hal

    Are we suppose to feel sorry for Van Jones?! I don't think so....jerk!

    July 23, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  6. Jeff Spangler

    Prepare for a few news cycles of being lectured by people who are politically superior to the rest of us on why it's OK to talk race so long as it's in the context of a transformative experience or learning moment. What a crock of [excrement]! Vilsack should've stood by his initial decision then quit to protest the reverse racism entrenched in the WH.

    July 23, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  7. Chris

    ...The former White House environmental czar who quit last year after coming under fire from conservative commentators. Hmmm,

    Hey CNN, why not be more specific for your viewers on exactly what the conservative commentators pointed out about this man. Go on...tell tell, and please do not leave out the fact that he believes Bush orchestrated 911 and started a Marxist revolutionary organization to overturn the governemnt of the US. Yes, please do fact check as you do so well.

    July 23, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. PalmReader

    Pretty sad when all the GOPers have left in their arsenal is race baiting.

    Acorn. Black Panthers. NAACP. Val Jones. Shirely Sherrod. Barrack Obama.

    Seems to be a pattern.

    How sad for America.

    How sad for Americans.

    July 23, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. mh

    "learning moment" was when Van Jones resigned. We learned he should probably be back in jail. I can' t believe CNN would give this ex-con a voice!

    July 23, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. Zero Hour

    I don't see what Jones has to do with this, other than he's black.

    And if the "old gate keepers" had acted as the nation's "immune system," we wouldn't be in our current sorry state of decline.

    July 23, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. mar

    Letting Mr. Jones go was supposed to be a learning moment too...

    July 23, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Keith in Austin

    Van Jones is a self-professed Communist! I love how CNN states that he resigned because he came under fire from "conservative commentators"

    When will you Liberal minions open your eyes and realize the harm that people like, Vance Jones pose to our Country.

    Speaking as a person that defended our Nation from the threat of Communism 35 years ago, the mere thought of Obama appointing this idiot is sickening. Just like several other things our President has done! Disgusting!!

    July 23, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
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