June 29, 2020

This is such a depressing Daily Beast story -- not only because Van Jones, while pretending to be a journalist, seems to have been actually working with the people he praised -- but also because no one seems to think there was anything wrong with it.

Look, this is something I complain about all the time. One of the reasons why journalism has so little of the public trust is because their agenda so often is supporting the same elites they cover. That's what makes them Villagers, as Digby famously wrote.

This is one of the biggest hazards of being a journalist: The ritual seduction where politicians ask for your opinion, tell you how insightful you are, and gradually move your focus from where it should be (on the people who read your writing or watch your analysis) and onto the people you're covering.

So now we know about Van Jones. And now a shadow is once again cast, not only on everything he's ever said or done, but on what every other journalist says or does. There are a lot of stupid Beltway journalists -- but they're not all corrupt. Many of them get up, do their jobs, and follow the rules.

Van Jones didn't. You simply can't wear both hats and be a journalist. You just can't. But is he really a journalist?

Part of this is the structure of cable news, where they hire "commentators" who routinely refuse to disclose their own conflicts on the stories they cover. The fact that cable news doesn't think that's even worth a mention is a major part of the problem. (Remember the Iraq war, where former generals appeared as pundits and never mentioned their highly-paid work for defense contractors?)

Kushner—who became interested in criminal justice and prison reform after his father, New Jersey real estate magnate Charles Kushner, was sent to the federal pen in 2005 for campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and witness tampering—told CNN’s Feist that the White House was planning to roll out a criminal justice reform policy initiative and pleaded for fair coverage from CNN.

Feist recommended that he speak to Jones, telling Kushner that the CNN personality was passionate about the issue.

“He was someone I’d seen on television, so I was deeply skeptical,” Kushner told The Daily Beast. “But I said I’d be happy to speak to him, and we had a good chat. And then we just started working together. And what I saw, with him, was that he had a lot of courage, when other people play politics.”

Please note: It was a CNN executive who set up this little play date.

All Jones had to do was disclose. He didn't. He did not serve the interests of his viewers, although he may have thought he did.

He should be fired, but he won't.

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