CNN is holding an all-day conference in New York today called “Citizen by CNN,” which sounds like a Wolf Blitzer fragrance brand. The event kicked off with a conversation between White House senior adviser/Middle East fixer Jared Kushner and CNN political commentator Van Jones. (Kushner and Jones recently worked together on prison reform.) And boy, did that interview suck an unreasonably large amount of ass.
This is how this thing started, and it only got worse from there:
I dunno man, “nepotism” seems like the obvious answer here. “I did not plan my life to go into politics,” Kushner responded, before calling the president “my father in law” a bunch of times and waxing poetic about getting to “really see the country and what he’s fighting for.”
Jared got to talk about his kids’ pap pap, who thinks separating children from their families at the border is a good thing to do:
Jones also asked Kushner about his “power couple” relationship with Ivanka Trump , something that no one has ever heard about and an incredibly crucial question to ask a senior adviser to the president. (He also called them an “extraordinary couple.”)
“What’s it like working with your wife every day, in that environment, with little kids?” he asked. “How do you guys manage that?”
Jones wasn’t done with the hard-hitting questions, such as: “Are you having fun?”
Finally, this is how Jones approached one of the more “serious” topics they discussed, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and Kushner’s friendship with Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman—to whom Kushner has been accused of divulging a list of dissidents:
Jones: The core of the core of it, [the reason] that people are mad at Jared Kushner right now, is, I think people feel like, ‘We got this American prince, he’s making friends with the Saudi prince, but the Saudi prince, like, killed the dissident, and it’s your fault, because if you hadn’t been friends with him, he wouldn’t have felt like he could’ve gotten away with it.’ How do you respond to critics like that?
Kushner: I’m not...even sure where to start with that.
Jones: [Laughs extremely hard]
Kushner: Look, I don’t respond to the critics.
Frost/Nixon, this was not.
CNN, like The New Yorker and The Atlantic and every outlet that has its own Festival d’Ideas, loves doing shit like this: having a liberal commentator interview a Trump administration official in order to “challenge” their liberal viewership to engage different ideas or whatever. But given how openly hostile the administration is to CNN and its reporters, you’d think that maybe they’d want to take advantage of an opportunity for an extended interview with one of its top officials—who, like his boss/father-in-law, has a metric ton of conflicts of interest—to actually hold Kushner to account here.
If you’re looking for more incredible content like Jake Tapper interviewing Jeff Flake on “Lessons Learned in Washington,” you can watch the whole thing below. I wouldn’t recommend it, though.
Update, 3:42 PM ET: Here’s what Jones had to say in response to his interviewing style, emphasis mine:
“I thought it was important to challenge him, but I really wanted to make sure that he was able to explain himself without having to defend himself on everything, because when you get somebody like that talking, sometimes, just let them talk. People on Twitter are saying, cut him off, beat him up. I’m like, ‘This is the first time you’re hearing him say something. You want me to stop him from saying something?’ I want to hear him say something.”
A reminder: Jared Kushner is a senior adviser to the President of the United States.