Last night during CNN's coverage of Super Tuesday results, CNN contributors Van Jones and Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord had an intense debate on racism in the Trump campaign. The argument culminated with Lord accusing Jones of "dividing people by race."
The two CNN colleagues, Van Jones and Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord, have at it again over Trump, the KKK, racism and more Wednesday on the network's morning show New Day. This morning's debate was so heated that a vast portion of it occurred after the network anchor Alisyn Camerota tried to wrap up the segment. The entire debate between the two lasted nearly 20 minutes.
Transcript, via CNN:
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: All right. That was just one small snippet of a fiery debate last night during CNN's Super Tuesday coverage. Commentators Jeffrey Lord and Van Jones got into this heated debate over Donald Trump and the KKK.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Joining us this morning are our two esteemed commentators. Side by side, it should be noted. This is about arguments, not insults. It's good to have you both, gentlemen.
So with the benefit of time, Van Jones, does the perspective of don't forget who these guys were, the KKK, and what it means to your party, does that make more sense to you in the analysis of what it means today with Donald Trump?
VAN JONES: You know, I don't understand why the right wing is so obsessed with trying to point out that the Ku Klux Klan, you know, 50, 60, 70 years was a part of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party in that time was a racist party and there were violent elements. That is true because, obviously, the Republicans at that time were the party of Lincoln, who ended slavery.
But we've had a reversal over these past 50 -- my entire lifetime. I was born in '68. There's been that reversal. So I think, for African-Americans, when we try and speak about the pain of the lynchings, we try to speak about the fear that we are having around every African-American dinner table, kitchen table, about what does Trump mean? People go, well 50 years ago they were Democrats. To us, it feels dismissive.
CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, were you using a diversionary tactic to go back 50, 60, 70 years, rather than back two days to what Donald Trump said where he did not give any sort of aggressive disavowal with Jake Tapper of the KKK. Why not just focus on today and the race today that we're talking about?
JEFFREY LORD: Well, I would love to focus on today, Alisyn. What I was trying to do was give historical context. My point is that race fuels the progressive movement and has always fueled the progressive movement. Whether it was slavery, segregation, lynching, the Ku Klux Klan, to today's racial quotas, illegal immigration by skin color.
You know, groups like La Raza, the Black Panthers, Black Lives Matter, et. cetera, it's always about let's divide people by race and then here is the progressive agenda that we want to enact. That is the connection to me and it's a constant throughout 200-some odd years of history. The Klan being just one of them. And by the way, when -- just not long ago when Occupy Wall Street was a big thing going, David Duke was a big supporter of Occupy Wall Street right there with President Obama.
CAMEROTA: Okay. Van, what's wrong with that logic?
JONES: I have no idea what he's talking about. First of all, you are going to say that the people who are dividing America by race were progressives, were liberals?
JONES: Hold on a second. You had your turn, sir.
LORD: Yes, sir.
JONES: I don't understand what you are talking about. If you look at American history, we were in -- I'm a ninth generation American. I've been in this country for nine generations, my family. I'm the first person in my family born with all my rights. Okay, I was born in '68. It was not progressives that were trying to keep slavery in place. It was not progressives that were trying to keep segregation in place. It was -- frankly, people of conscience on both sides fought against that. But there is this weird strain now on the right that tries to pretend that their hands are completely clean when it comes to race.
CUOMO: You know, Van, sometimes when you guys are actually in something, it is a little harder to see what's going on because you are focused on making these counterpoints. I think I have one for each of you that I think is what's coming out here.
What Jeffrey is saying to you is what Donald Trump did with the KKK is a nonevent. He didn't mean it as a hedge. He didn't mean it as a clever way of keeping them in his tent. He disavowed them and the left is using it anyway because that is what you guys do with race. You divide people.
LORD: Exactly, Chris.
CUOMO: Do you accept that, Van?
JONES: Look, there are some people who do that, and there are some people aren't. But here is what -- what I said last night and here's what I'll continue to say. Donald Trump is not a moderate. He's not somebody who doesn't speak his mind. He is a passionate person. And when you talk about terrorism, he is passionate. When you talk about people being murdered for no reason, he is passionate. When he talks about ISIS, he is passionate.
We have American terrorists, the biggest, strongest, longest terrorist organization in the United States is the Ku Klux Klan, and you heard no passion. What I said last night was where was the passion? If ISIS had endorsed Trump, he would have said I disavow. Move on. He would have said this is horrible. You saw none of that and that -- that double standard on terrorism, that double standard on black people being murdered is what we were calling out. And it's right to call that out.
CAMEROTA: Okay. And I like the exercise --
JONES: That's not playing the race card. That's --
CAMEROTA: I like the exercise that Chris is doing where it's like couples therapy that Chris and I are in where you have to mirror each other. So Jeffrey, do you understand Van's point that Donald Trump needed to give a much more passionate vociferous response to the question about disavowal of KKK and David Duke? LORD: Sure. Sure. I take his point, but what I'm trying to say is if
you sense a lack of passion in his voice because, frankly, the Ku Klux Klan is a nonentity here.
JONES: To you it's a nonentity. We have hate crime -- I'm sorry. I don't mean to interrupt.
CUOMO: Jeffrey, Jeffrey --
LORD: No, go ahead. Go ahead.
CUOMO: That is the part that's difficult for people. The KKK is not a nonentity. It is real. David Duke is the grand wizard.
LORD: No, he was.
CUOMO: They are still coming out and making statements. And why would you have to qualify how legit an organization they are today to condemn what they represent?
LORD: It's not legit, Chris.
CUOMO: If there's one of them, why wouldn't you condemn it?
LORD: It's -- well of course you condemn it. And he --
CUOMO: He didn't. And that's the point.
LORD: But he did, Chris. Over and over --
CUOMO: But not in that instance. And the answer to the question is why?
LORD: No -- See, Chris, you are trying to -- I mean, I'm not saying this personally to you -- But I just -- the implication here that he's, what, sending a dog whistle to white supremacists?
CAMEROTA: Yes, that is the implication.
LORD: Yeah, but, right -- But that is because liberals play the race card all of the time. That is what they do.
JONES: No, that's not true. Can we have a whole hour on this?
LORD: You've been doing this for 200 years.
JONES: Oh my -- Hey, no. For 200 years we've been being murdered, we've been being -- lynched and that's not -- and for us to speak out against that, sir, for us to say that that's -- is not playing the race card.
LORD: This is the party of Lincoln and --
JONES: Hello. Well then why at Donald Trump's rallies today --
CUOMO: But it's not Republican versus Democrat, Jeffrey. It's really
just about Donald Trump owning what he said and why.
LORD: But Chris, he said it over and over and over again before this happened.
CUOMO: That's true. And after. But not then, and that is why people are raising questions.
JONES: It is not just this statement. Listen.
CUOMO: It is what he said about immigrants, also, that people feel are fueling this type of --
CAMEROTA: We've got 15 seconds. Go ahead, Van. Wrap it up.
JONES: At Donald Trump rallies today, I mean, this past week. You don't have to go back 50 years. African-Americans have been evicted, they've been hit, they have been hurt. There is something happening that's a racial undertone, that's a racial -- and you got to be able to talk about that without being accused of playing the race card.
CAMEROTA: Okay. We have to leave it there but, you know, I heard you say we need an hour on this. Okay, Jeffrey, that's not fair. You get the last word, Jeffrey. You can give us ten seconds.
LORD: Look, I mean, I -- my childhood heroes were JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King. All I'm saying is the world that they were trying to bring us to, Martin Luther King used to quote the Declaration of Independence, we're all created equal and I'm just --
JONES: Black people didn't get beat up at their rallies.
LORD: I'm just suggesting we stop dividing people by race because this is what -- What happens is you get racial tensions when you divide by race.
JONES: If you beat black people up at rallies, you get tensions.
CUOMO: But Jeffrey, so here's the --
JONES: If black people get beat up at your rallies, there's tensions. Don't blame black people for getting beat up at Donald Trump rallies.
CUOMO: There is an ugliness that everybody wants to see go away as much as we can make it happen in America. You're saying it, Jeffrey, about having everybody be equal. Van is saying it about let's be sensitive to what can be said that enhances these differences. The question is why aren't you two guys connecting? It seems to be about the blame of who's using this more as a weapon, Jeffrey. Is that really the way to solve this?
LORD: Yeah, I mean, I do think this is used a weapon. I mean, I just -- I am so disappointed in the aftermath of the 1960s. The 1960s were a corrective to what the Democratic Party did. The reason we needed all those --
JONES: You don't take any responsibility for your party's role in any of this. This is the problem.
LORD: The reason we needed those 1960 civil rights laws --
JONES: I was born '68, sir.
LORD: Right. The reason we needed those civil rights laws in the 1960s is because the Democratic Party went out of their way to undermine the civil rights laws, the same ones that were enacted essentially --
JONES: Hold on. I have to correct this.
CAMEROTA: So what about today, Jeffrey?
JONES: I have to correct is this.
CAMEROTA: I mean, you keep going back to history, but what about today? Why wasn't -- Why don't you understand that Donald Trump's language, just on the Jake Tapper show, not what he tweeted later, was not satisfying to people who wanted a real full-throated disavowal?
LORD: Because he's done it before. He didn't think it was a big deal because he'd already done it four different times.
JONES: Hold on a second.
LORD: You know --
CUOMO: Jeffrey, you understand in logic why that doesn't work. If you hold a position, you hold it every time. You don't fudge a position because you have said it before. That's not convincing.
LORD: Well, if you want your doctor you can keep your doctor. I mean -- Politicians.
CUOMO: Two wrongs make a right?
LORD: No. Look -- all I'm saying to you --
JONES: Listen -- I want to say something here.
CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Van.
LORD: Yes, sir.
JONES: It is very important to me -- there is something wrong with this particular view that because horrible racist Dixiecrats in the South did horrible racist things -- and they did horrible racist things for a long time. In fact -- LORD: For political reasons.
JONES: Hey, let me finish..
LORD: Yes, sir.
JONES: Let me finish. For a long time they did horrible racist things. 50, 60 years ago. I say that is horrible. But guess what, those people left the Democratic Party and they joined your party. That is the problem. No, they literally left your party --
LORD: No -- That is simply not true.
CUOMO: I don't get why it is about party. Who cares?
JONES: I don't either! He's the one that raises this every time. This is --
CUOMO: Isn't everybody unified in thinking that this is disgusting? Didn't your leadership just come out and say exactly that, Jeffrey? Isn't it something that should be a taken-for-granted --
JONES: It's the dodge that they use every time to take no responsibility for the racism in their party. And that doesn't make any sense to us and it is horribly offensive and if you want to come together, the one thing you would do is stop talking about stuff that happened 70 years with Dixiecrats. Let's talk about people being beat up at your rallies today. Today. Right now.
LORD: Let's talk about --
JONES: Do you care about the black kids that are getting beat up at your rallies or no?
CAMEROTA: Okay, let Jeffrey respond.
LORD: I want to know exactly what happened. Were they --
JONES: It's on video. Google it.
LORD: Yeah, but why are they black kids, Van?
JONES: Because their parents are black, because their grandparents --
LORD: No, no, no --
LORD: They're Americans. They are Americans.
JONES: Americans aren't getting beat up at your rallies. Black kids are. LORD: No, no --
JONES: Yeah, they are.
LORD: You see, that's it. You want to focus on their skin color.
JONES: Because it's only black kids getting beat up at your rallies.
LORD: Because that's wrong -- No. No.
JONES: Listen, if some white kids got beat up at Trump rallies, I'd talk about that too. The reality is --
LORD: White kids got beat up in the streets of Chicago by the Democratic mayor of Chicago in 1968.
JONES: In '68, the year I was born. This doesn't make any sense, Jeffrey.
LORD: And it still keeps going.