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. Ruth

    I may be wrong but I hope Glenn Beck burns in hell for the misery he has caused people.

    July 23, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  2. GL

    He is so right. The new social media is going to destory many people if we don't get some type of controll of all these edited story that are not vetted.

    July 23, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  3. Mario Lorie

    I thought they had learned something a year ago when Obama accused the white policeman of acting stupidly against the black professor. Is he going to invite Shirley to a beer summit.

    July 23, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. thor

    So the learning for Van Jones is that you can be a racist and if caught just say it was out of context and you will be considered a model citizen.!! This lady holds prejudices against whites or against"those that have"And she told a white man to go get help"from one of his own kind"And as she was telling her little anecdotal story,there was laughter and applause from the group that she was talking to.People showing their approval !!!

    July 23, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Augsbee

    Please, excuses, excuses, this lady caused an ugly problem for President Obama, the White House, NAACP, Fox News, etc...This is the typical irresponsible behavior of someone looking to make some money, a movie, a book, fame, interviews and let's get real she did manage to get a telephone call from President Obama that she had probably been wanting for some time, she was probably aiming at being invited to the White House as was the Harvard Professor. Sherrod did not stand her ground, did not demanded the opportunity to explain herself, her words, her actions from the past. Instead, she quickly resigned and blamed everyone else, including President Obama. Interesting that she did stand her ground when she filed a lawsuit against the Agriculture Dept. in 1997, because she stood to make money on the lawsuit, she & husband made $300,000, I believe the total lawsuit was $13 million. Everyone is using Sherrod as an excuse to score points of racism in our country. Bottom line, Sherrod was irresponsible in her actions but knows everyone will excuse her if she plays the race card well, even if it means blaming President Obama, NAACP, her former boss, Fox News, etc.. which is unacceptable.

    July 23, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. snow

    Everything about this administration is a learning experience because they have no experience. The really disappointing thing is, this administration does not learn from learning experiences. I guess this administration is to dumb to learn anything but can only read from a teleprompter.

    July 23, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Steve- Illinois

    "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."

    If the Obama administration had properly vetted him, he would never have ever been appointed! The "learning moment" is that the progressives are willing to allow this guy to speak at their convention! Promoting people who spread complete gibberish, will never move any groups agenda forward. You will quickly lose all credibility.

    Common Sense!

    July 23, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. Mark from Louisiana

    van jones is a radical, don't need that kind of crap around the white house.

    July 23, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  9. You gotta be kidding

    Do you think she was invited to a beer summit?

    July 23, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. Fair is Fair

    That's the problem with electing an inexperienced freshman senator to the office of president – when you're getting on-the-job training, everything is a "learning moment".

    July 23, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Beware of Conservative Bloggers, operatives, etc., they can and will ...... spew lies, defame, spread fear, etc., etc.

    July 23, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  12. gt

    learning movement ? da,,, this is special education 101,,ck your sources...

    July 23, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  13. Naqib

    So Trent Lott should get a pass too....
    And Fox news since they ran the story after she was fired...
    And the list goes on... but I'm seeing it's ok for one party but not the other... and Sherrod's later comments in the same speech didn't give her a pass... calling all Republicans who are against obamacare racist because the president is black is not being above the fray...
    But then again... the hypocracy is so bad anymore... what's the point anyway

    July 23, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  14. I now own a piece of paper that says I own gold,hahaha

    Glen Beck should be covered in fire ants till he buys and sells people more gold.hahaha

    July 23, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  15. Tina in PA

    Bring him back. I believe the same thing happened to him. I respect president Obama but he needs to stand behind his appointees.

    July 23, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. david

    she is a racist what else is new black people in general are the most racist people on the planet...i have nothing to do with them i would not call the fire department if i saw their house burning ....they live by racism and they want to be racists

    July 23, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. oy vey az

    Would you please put some salve on that jerky old knee ?

    July 23, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  18. Johnny DC

    "An experience like" yours?

    You mean when you are outed for exactly who you are, and the people pass judgment on you?

    Van Jones is no more a "victim" of the modern era than Dick Cheney. Both men are evil, and the majority of the general public has both of them pegged perfectly.

    July 23, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  19. Bedtime for Obonzo

    And don't forget Van's little problem of being a self-decribed Communist. That, too, was a factor in his resignation.

    July 23, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    it sure is a learning moment! The right wing will stop at nothing to destroy the president and our country.

    July 23, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    This flaming idiot is the face of liberals and progressives and why they are so unpopular and have set the democratic party back decades. The learning moment consists of a morally bankrupt, ethically challenged, ineffective congress following an inept, corrupt union toady president and is equally corrupt administration.

    July 23, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. David

    This communist is in no position to tell us what is wrong and what is right! Common guys, enough is enough with extreme ideologists; because of these nut wings (of both parties: extreme left and right) the country as a whole is suffering, the congress does not function well, the president is paralyzed, and the entire mess in handling the country at this point is continuing!

    July 23, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  23. bj

    It is iinteresting that you would contact Van Jones. I personally felt he should have fought. Isn't this a free country? Don't individuals have the right to express their views? I forgot, not for Black folks. I guess you will drag this on for another week or so.

    I am with Rachel, there is a conspiracy to track down every African American appointee and find or create some dirt on them. And given the so called scared folks (racists) in the country they believe it even if it is proven wrong and manipulated.

    This is where you fall down on the job, you allow these individuals to lie, lie and lie and you never take 'them to task'. Why is that?

    You push their agenda by being silent. The only one that has recently taken someone to task has been John King and I was surprised.

    I believe the Republicans are behind all of this. I will wait for Rachel or Keith to uncover this. I doubt that you will, unless you have to in the future. I won't hold my breath.

    July 23, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. AEJ

    Van Jones, do not worry about Glen beck, just keep praying for him as he is going blind. His sins are catching up with him. "He too will pass" and it will not be long.
    There is an old adage "what goes around comes around" and "you are digging a hole for me, dig one for yourself"

    July 23, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. Cynthia

    What learning moment?!? Would that be that those involved should have done research? Would it be that persons involved should be wary of comments they make even 20 years ago? Although Sherrod;s statements were not given full context doesn't not erase that she held that view for a period of time.

    I would say the learning moment is that we are suppose to get past race. We have more common ground than we would like to think. We all face similar issues. Race is what political machines thrive off. If you break people into groups it is easier to control the masses

    July 23, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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