Van Jones Says Trump Is "Much Worse" Than People Think But His Voters Are "Much Better"
“Everybody that voted for Trump was not voting for every crazy thing he said," said Jones on 'The Daily Show.'
Van Jones stopped by Comedy Central's The Daily Show on Monday to chat with host Trevor Noah about Donald Trump's upcoming presidency and what happened in the election. Jones was promoting his CNN special on Donald Trump voters called The Messy Truth, which is set to air Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.
"Welcome to hell, sir," joked Jones after Noah welcomed him to the show. Noah commended Jones for sounding the alarm that "angry white voters" should be taken seriously, particularly people who were neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Noah asked how he was so certain that they were going to vote for Trump.
"I've been black a long time," responded Jones.
He said he wanted to make it clear that not everyone who voted for Trump did so for "racially negative reasons."
“You have a core of people who were actually delighted by some of those inflammatory comments,” said Jones. “Those people I would call bigots, okay? But you had another group of people who found those comments distasteful, but not disqualifying. Because they had so much other economic pain and problems that were not being talked to. And those were the people that cost us the election.”
Noah asked Jones what he thinks about the argument some people make about not engaging with those who decided to turn a blind eye to misogyny and racism. Jones said he doesn't want to write anybody off and likes to look at the nuances in people.
"Everybody that voted for Trump was not voting for every crazy thing he said," he added. "A lot of people voted for Hillary Clinton holding their nose, too."
Jones said he doesn't want to build a coalition for Trump by dismissing a large segment of Americans. "Listen, Trump is much worse than anybody in this country is willing to accept,” he said, “but a lot of his voters are much better, and I don’t want to give them away.”
Noah and Jones debated the merits of CNN giving someone a platform when they are saying inflammatory things that are blatantly untrue. Jones said it was important not just to talk about people, but to talk to them, and try and find a way to have "constructive disagreement."
Noah asked about black Americans who are tired of doing the right thing, then being asked to be patient and conciliatory. "I’ve got to be the one who is now extending a hand, listening and talking to people who I feel like would not do the same for me?” Noah asked, on behalf of people who may feel that way. He asked Jones how he finds the strength to reach out and engage.
“They shot [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] in the face the year I was born because he was trying to fight for these ideals,” replied Jones. “I have one bad election and some bad tweets and quit? I can’t do that. And I'm going to tell you: You cannot, especially this younger generation. They can’t quit either.”
Earlier, Noah dedicated a segment of his show to Trump's recent "tweetstorms," reflecting on how he actually appreciates hearing what Trump is really thinking, and saying that the people he's really scared of are the people around Trump.
"A drunk is a drunk, but the person who encourages him to drive — that's an asshole. And Trump has a lot of assholes around him," said Noah.
He then played interviews featuring Mike Pence and Kellyanne Conway. "If ever there's a time that journalists are going to be tested in America, it's going to be during Trump's presidency," said the Daily Show host. Noah said the media should be awarded for calling BS on people, and gave Jake Tapper and George Stephanopoulos "Crapcatcher" awards for pushing back against Pence and Conway.