White House correspondent April D. Ryan and CNN political commentator Van Jones had an intense exchange over how Kim Kardashian West's past has elevated her to a pop culture icon.
West made headlines in the past few days for a feud with Chicago rapper and Donda's House co-founder Rhymefest and visiting the White House to discuss prison reform with President Donald Trump. Jones and Ryan squabbled over the latter on the recent edition of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.
Prison reform became West's crusading issue after she learned about the story of 62-year-old Alice Marie Johnson, who is serving a life sentence for money laundering and her involvement in a cocaine ring. Controversy surrounds Johnson's lengthy imprisonment because they were nonviolent first-time charges.
Jones attempted to defend her attendance at the White House despite her lack of knowledge on the issue. The New York Post recently released a controversial and sexist cover alluding to her past.“People have always underestimated her,” Jones said. “She is not a household name because she is a dummy. She’s a brilliant marketer, and she’s now using her marketing to try to help this woman.”
However, Ryan was not buying that defense of her. She reminded him of her rise to fame and that sentencing reform should be the main goal.“Van, Van, Van, Van,” Ryan interrupted. "‘She’s a household name for something else, uh uh, she’s a household name for something else,” alluding to her sex tape with singer Ray J.
But Jones insisted that her rise was due to a brilliantly orchestrated plan and not that a black woman could never achieve what she has if they started with a sex tape.“The dismissal of Kim Kardashian based on a mistake that she made when she was a young woman, I’m just tired of that,” he said.
“A lot of people have made that kind of mistake with a sex tape, but they have not then gone on to build multi-hundred million dollar or billion dollar businesses. Part of what has to happen, if we believe in redemption — for Ms. Alice, for the 200,000 federal prisoners, for everybody — then, let’s believe in it for everybody and applaud people when they do the right thing. For once, let’s applaud people when they do the right thing.”