CNN’s Van Jones aims to ‘detoxify,’ ‘depolarize’ political conversation with new show
In a cable TV news landscape filled with shouting matches and punchy sound bites, Van Jones says he’s ready to “detoxify” and “depolarize” the chatter.
“We’re trying to broaden the conversation, deepen the conversation,” the CNN contributor says of his new program, “The Van Jones Show.”
The weekend show, which debuts Saturday, will air twice a month on CNN.
“It gives us the opportunity to be more reflective of what’s going on, rather than completely having to react tweet to tweet, which has been the challenge with the news period that we’re in,” Jones tells ITK.
“We’re really trying to bring in a fresh set of voices. I go out into the country for a segment in each show,” he says.
That means hopping in a car equipped with cameras for a recurring segment (complete with a producer’s dream title) called “Van in a Van.” For the inaugural episode, they head to Charlottesville, Va., the city where counterprotester Heather Heyer was killed during a white nationalist rally last summer.
“I picked up two conservatives and an African-American progressive pastor. And we just drove around and talked,” says Jones. “It’s pretty crazy, but it gives a chance to sort of take these places that are just talked about for a moment, and then they just become a sound bite, and go back and really have a conversation with the real people who live there.”
Saturday’s show will also feature an interview with rapper Jay Z, whose latest album, “4:44,” is “all about politics and social commentary,” Jones says.
“There are a lot of people who are in public life who have a lot to say about politics now,” explains Jones. “Politics used to be off in the corner some place. Now, in some ways with the rise of [President] Trump, pop culture has taken over politics, but politics has also taken over pop culture.”
Between hosting his new show and the day-to-day grind analyzing politics on CNN’s airwaves, does Jones have any time for relaxation?
“I need to sleep more than I do,” he replies with a laugh.
“I have a lot to say. But more importantly, everywhere I go, people have a lot to say,” he exclaims. “I have the most amazing, deep conversations in shopping centers, the standard Lyft ride, even relatives who were not remotely political even five years ago just blow my mind with their insight and also the concision of their observation.”
But, the 49-year-old former President Obama adviser says sometimes even he needs a break from the political talk.
“I’m just like everybody else. I say, ‘Jesus, man, let me just put on some Netflix.’ ”