CNN's Van Jones Admits Identity Politics Played Role in Griner's Release

(Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

While the White House insists it had no choice in the deal to release Brittney Griner in exchange for the Russian terrorist Viktor Bout, others are rightfully questioning why former Marine Paul Whelan, who has been detained by Russia for four years now on bogus charges, wasn’t also released–or released first.


CNN’s Van Jones seems to know why.

“This is huge. First of all, that’s a decade-defining image when you saw her wife sitting there, Kamala Harris was there, president is there, such a human image, and yet it just shows this president got it done,” Jones said on Thursday. “He cared enough about this individual person to get her home. It was shocking for young Americans to see an icon like that snatched, locked up, treated like garbage and nine years, ten years for bringing some cannabis oil, medically prescribed.”

Jones continued, “So these are decade-defining images. I guarantee you there will be young people 10, 20, 30 years from now who will remember this moment because she is an icon. It’s really, really extraordinary. And people are talking about this other guy. He’s so terrible. Look, there’s a lot of terrible people in the world, a lot of terrible people in Russia. What you can’t allow to happen is have a black female icon treated like garbage and America do nothing about it. Something was done about it, and people are going to be proud of that.”

Related: Brittney Griner Should Have Been Left to Rot in Russia


As for Paul Whelan, who’s been wrongly detained in Russia for four years… well, he’s white, he’s male, and the Biden administration can’t exploit his release the same way they could with a black lesbian. Jones seemed to care just as little about the white guy’s plight because the most important thing is that Biden can enjoy a public relations boost for securing the release of a black, lesbian professional basketball player he believes to be an icon.

Many believe that the Biden administration had a choice on whom to bring home: Griner or Whelan. And without saying it directly, Van Jones clearly believes that identity politics played a role in Griner being released.



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