The other day Tavis Smiley and Cornel West were bitching about President Obama. What they were bitching about doesn’t rally matter because that’s what they do. That’s all they do and they tear down Obama so much it makes me wonder are they angling for their own show on Fox News? How did West and Smiley go from men of respect within Black culture to self-parody?
I’d sum it up in two words: Barack Obama. From Tavis’ perspective it’s straight up envy. He used to host a yearly gathering called “The State of the Black Union” where he would invite prominent people to discuss issues of importance to African-Americans. It was interesting to see people who were often overlooked by the White mainstream media gather to discuss and debate, but a funny thing happened with “The State of the Black Union.” Talking was all it was about. There was no action plan. There was no “Black agenda” that sprung from these lengthy talk-a-thons. It was equally clear if you weren’t part of the Tavis Smiley clique of Favorite Black Folks , you probably weren’t going to be invited to speak. Then there’s the issue of the gathering of Black thinkers being underwritten by Smiley’s corporate pals, Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo.
The defining moment came in 2008 when Smiley invited Sen. Obama to appear at the yearly gathering. The eventual nominee was still in the middle of primary battle with Hillary Clinton and instead of coming off the campaign trail, he wrote Smiley a letter offering to send Michelle Obama in his stead. Smiley flatly rejected Obama’s wife as his representative and got really ugly about it. Smiley, a Clinton supporter, invited her to appear instead and she accepted.
Smiley continued to attack Obama for not appearing. Suddenly, even Smiley’s supporters started looking sideways at this raging egotist and wondering who was he to demand Obama appear personally to kiss his ring?
This led to Smiley eventually quitting the Tom Joyner radio show, the program that initially raised his national profile and a bitter falling out with Joyner himself. Smiley wrote a book after Obama won the presidency called “Accountable” where he pompously asserted how it was up to Black people like him to hold Obama accountable if he didn’t deliver the goods to the Black community once he took office.
The book tanked hard and Smiley griped Obama supporters had turned on him and caused the book to flop. He’s been a little pebble in a big can rattling around ever since about how Obama ain’t shit.
Cornel West…now that’s an entirely different and much sadder story. It’s also downright pathetic at points. A frustrated supporter in 2008, West despises Obama so much he can’t abide anyone that doesn’t share his negative opinion of the president.
“I love Brother Mike Dyson, but we’re living in a society where everybody is up for sale,” West said in a Huffington Post story. “Everything is up for sale. And he and Brother (Al) Sharpton and Sister Melissa (Harris-Perry) and others, they have sold their souls for a mess of Obama pottage. And we invite them back to the black prophetic tradition after Obama leaves. But at the moment, they want insider access, and they want to tell those kind of lies. They want to turn their back to poor and working people. And it’s a sad thing to see them as apologists for the Obama administration in that way, given the kind of critical background that all of them have had at some point.”
Who needs Cornel West’s kind of “love.” If everybody is up for sale, where’s West hiding his price tag?
“Sister Melissa” hasn’t been reluctant to call out West for his single-minded mission to demean and defame Obama at every turn as her 2011 column in The Nation stripped West’s hypocrisy down to the bone with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.
“As tenured professors Cornel West and I are not meaningfully accountable, no matter what our love, commitment, or self-delusions tell us. President Obama, as an elected official, can, in fact, be voted out of his job. We can’t. That is a difference that matters. As West derides the President’s economic policies he remains silent on his friend Tavis Smiley’s relationship with Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo, and McDonald’s–all corporations whose invasive and predatory actions in poor and black communities have been the target of progressive organizing for decades. I have never heard him take Tavis Smiley to task for helping convince black Americans to enter into predatory mortgages. I’ve never heard him ask whether Tavis’ decision to publish R. Kelley’s memoirs might be a less than progressive decision. He doesn’t hold Tavis accountable because Tavis is his friend and he is loyal. I respect that, but I also know that if he were in elected office the could not get off so easily. Opposition research would point out the hypocrisy in his public positions in a way that would make him vulnerable come election time. As a media personality and professor he is safely ensconced in a system that can never vote him off the island. I think an honest critique of Obama has to begin by acknowledging his own privileges.”
The days when Black Americans had “leaders” is over and done. We have organization heads, self-appointed experts and spokespersons on race and some celebrities who have a podium to express their beliefs. But as far as “leaders” goes, that went bye-bye when Martin and Malcolm and others left the scene, often violently and always prematurely. What we have now is a group of Second Wave Wannabees who would like to considered as picking up where King, Malcolm, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, and so many others left off.
Martin didn’t have corporate sponsorship. Malcolm didn’t demand huge speaking fees. Rosa didn’t have a talk show. Nobody went looking for Smiley or West to “lead” Black people. We had REAL leaders. Why settle for phony ones?
Pointing out West’s hypocrisy is almost its own news desk. Journalist and blogger Eric Wattree has long documented West and Smiley’s shameless self-promotion, “West is never short on words when it comes to denigrating high-profile Black people. He’s publicly criticized Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Jay Z, and of course, his favorite target, President Barack Obama. But when it comes to his good friend and associate, Tavis Smiley’s, involvement in Wells Fargo’s victimization of the Black community, he’s been curiously silent.”
The silence is being interrupted by the loudness of the Black community waking up to Smiley’s coziness with Corporate America and how he’s played the role of Judas goat leading African-Americans into financial ruin while profiting from their misery. Following their second so-called “poverty tour” that West and Smiley claimed was supposed to spotlight the poor, but was confined to key states in the last presidential election, the due were called out by Najee Ali, a Los Angeles based activist, for Smiley’s cozy relationship with rabidly anti-union Wal-Mart.
“Wal-Mart is a billion dollar corporation. They should be able to offer a better medical package for their associates and a living wage. The involvement of corporations like Wal-Mart in Tavis Smiley’s own PBS show is troublesome,” says Ali. “Wal-Mart is one of the major sponsors of his show. Therefore, Wal-Mart plays a major role in sustaining Smiley’s popularity. If Smiley and West want to address poverty shouldn’t they involve Wal-Mart in the conversation and hold them accountable as well?”
Don’t hold your breath waiting for Dear Brother Cornel to answer that.
West is a joke. There’s a rock song entitled, “I Am What I Hated When I Was Young” and that sorry state where West is at now. A vain, prideful man with a slight Messiah Complex, whenever West opens his mouth he sounds more irrational, more deranged, more self-righteous and more butt hurt than ever. There is nothing remotely intellectual in the vicious and highly personal ways West scorns the president.
What do you get when you match a vain, egotistical academic with delusions of divinity with a vain, egotistical hustler searching for a way to stay relevant? Nothing good. Just two clowns without a circus fighting to stay in the spotlight. If it wasn’t so damn annoying it would be sad.
I admit it: when I read the judge revoked George Zimmerman’s bail and ordered him to turn himself in within 48 hours, I was hoping he wouldn’t.
If Zimmerman had “gone rogue” and on the run, it would have been fun to watch his defenders squirm and stammer trying to explain it. It would also have fun to see Zimmerman hunted the way he hunted Trayvon Martin.
The pro-Zimmerman side has blamed Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, blamed the news media, blamed the prosecutors, blamed Trayvon Martin, blamed anyone except George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman lied to the court about the funds at his disposal. Lied about his second passport. Along with his wife, attempted to hide how much money he had squirreled away. Try and put that on the Pseudo New Black Panthers or demonstrations in the streets of Sanford.
Zimmerman’s own deceit and duplicity has put his honesty and credibility in question, so who will his defenders blame now?
In revoking the bond, Judge Lester said Zimmerman, who is currently in hiding, shouldn’t be able to benefit from “material falsehoods.” The judge also immediately placed Zimmerman under a “no bond” status, meaning he’ll likely spend the rest of his time awaiting trial in a Seminole County jail cell. The judge gave Zimmerman 48 hours to report to jail.
As prosecutors released nearly all their evidence in the case to the public last month, it increasingly appeared like Zimmerman’s original statement – that he shot Trayvon after fearing for his life as the boy pummeled him – had credence. Medical statements showed he had a broken nose and cuts on the back of his head, and several witnesses corroborated that Zimmerman was on the receiving end of a beating after getting out of his car to follow Trayvon.
Prosecutors say Zimmerman is culpable because he ‘profiled” the boy as a criminal, ignored a dispatcher’s warning about following Trayvon, and then “confronted” him. While the state’s Stand Your Ground law allows people to defend themselves with lethal force in public areas, it does not protect those who instigate a fight.
Some legal experts, including Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz, have accused chief prosecutor Angela Corey of folding under public pressure to charge Zimmerman with second degree murder, arguing there’s not enough evidence to support the charges. It’s a notion Ms. Corey has denied.
But having the judge in essence calling Zimmerman a liar before he even has a chance to take the stand in his defense may dramatically change the tenor and perception of the case by boosting the prosecution’s contention that Zimmerman is not a trustworthy person. Because Zimmerman is the only living witness to the exact events of that night, a jury will have to weigh his credibility as he defends himself against a crime that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
During the hearing, prosecutors introduced several recordings of telephone conversations between Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, made while he was in jail. In one such recording, they can be heard speaking cryptically about a second passport in his possession. Zimmerman was ordered by the judge to hand over his passport so he couldn’t flee the country, but Zimmerman applied for a second passport after the shooting, saying his first one had been stolen.
I’m sure he had a really good reason to lie to the judge about his assets. Like he didn’t want to go to jail. If Zimmerman is willing to lie to a judge about how much money he had and his second passport, what else might he be lying about?
Does these seem like the actions of a trustworthy man? Not to me it doesn’t but maybe that’s just my anti-Zimmerman/pro-Trayvon bias coming out. Some have cast doubts on how smart Zimmerman is with his reckless disregard of the 911 dispatcher and every rule a neighborhood watch should follow.
But I’m not so sure Zimmerman is as big a dope as he actions lead others to conclude he is. He fooled a judge into releasing him on a low bond. Zimmerman fooled a lot of people thinking he’s an innocent man caught up in a politically and racially fueled nightmare of Kafkaesque proportions.
Zimmerman might not be particularly intelligent or bright, but he’s displayed a degree of cunning and capacity to manipulate others in his behalf that says to me he isn’t stupid either.
Now he can be the smartest second-degree murderer in a Florida jail. If the judge lets Zimmerman out on bail a second time, he’s a bigger idiot than Zimmerman.
George, I have three words for you: watch your back.
- Zimmerman credibility may be hurt by bond dispute – CBS News (cbsnews.com)
- Judge revokes George Zimmerman’s bond. Accused slayer must report to sheriff in 48 hours (dailykos.com)
- FLORIDA – George Zimmerman’s Bond Revoked In Trayvon Martin Case (claimyourinnocence.wordpress.com)
Even tragedies can present opportunities and the killing of Trayvon Martin is no exception. The mainstream media took their sweet time in discovering what Black bloggers and media was already reporting, but now they have made this the biggest story in America.
It’s been great for ratings. And it’s been great for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as well. Instead of trying to bite off Occupy Wall Street or some other topic in the news, the two former unofficial presidents of Black America are back on their favorite beat, marching, demonstrating and protesting and all in the name of Trayvon Martin.
I have a colleague whom I used to work with at a newspaper and we get together to shoot the breeze. His problem with Jackson and Sharpton are their claims that they are “Black leaders.”
That sets my friend all the way off. Who made THEM “Black leaders?” Did you vote for them? I know I didn’t! Where’s MY ballot?
There is something to that. Why are Jackson and Sharpton considered Black leaders? Why do Black folks even need leaders? Who are the leaders of Latinos? Who speaks for lesbians? Who’s the great leader of Asians? Who’s the greatest White leader? Or does even posing the question seem ludicrous to even ask?
The last great Black leaders were Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. They became leaders the hard way. They earned it and they were killed for being leaders. You could not find two more different men with different approaches than Martin and Malcolm. Jackson and Sharpton on their best day couldn’t touch them on their worst. Neither one of them are worthy heirs of King’s mantle of civil rights advocacy. Neither one of them are as bold and willing to face White supremacy the way Malcolm X did.
What keeps J&A on the front pages is the passionate hatred they provoke from right-wing critics. Jesse and Al are considered by the Right as race hustlers who stir up trouble, shakedown businesses, show up wherever there’s a controversy and a camera and are generally unscrupulous, unprincipled, con men. Some of this criticism is both verifiable and irrefutable.
Any honest critique of Jackson and Sharpton must take in account their pros and cons.
Positives: protecting civil rights, keeping a spirit of activism alive, bringing attention to issues and stories that would go unnoticed and unaddressed otherwise, ticking off the right-wing something fierce.
Negatives: attention whores, lack of identified achievable goals, unwilling to get off the stage so younger leaders can emerge, egotistical, poor tacticians, dubious personal conduct,
The biggest negative is neither Jackson or Sharpton will confront and criticize Democrats and liberals when they come up short or sell out the interests of African-Americans. A true Black leader has to be willing to be bipartisan in their criticism. Jackson has mildly criticized Obama and Sharpton flaunts his connections to the White House. Can you imagine J&A publicly and vocally breaking with a Democratic president the way Martin Luther King, Jr., broke with Lyndon Johnson over the Viet Nam war and poverty in America? With Jackson and Sharpton beholden to the Democrats, they can’t be truly independent.
Martin and Malcolm may have created the template for Al and Jesse, but what sets them heads and shoulders above Sharpton and Jackson is they never craved the spotlight. King was a reluctant convert to political activism and X transformed himself from a small-time hustler, pimp, and convict to the most powerful and charismatic spokesman for Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam until he broke with him.
Neither Martin or Malcolm were wealthy or sought the spotlight the way their would-be successors have. You can’t fault them for finding a way to turn a buck off of being a political gadfly, but it leaves them open to charges that they are chasing publicity and dollars, not justice.
I was too young to march with Martin Luther King or listen to Malcolm X, but their authenticity was above reproach. . They were the real deal and they both got taken out for it. Al and Jesse? I think they believe what they say, but I don’t need “leaders” any more and I don’t want to be “led.”
Obama has proven you can be a leader through obtaining political legitimacy. Jackson and Sharpton both mounted presidential bids, but they never seemed fully committed. If conservatives really want to make J&A relics of a previous time, they need to stop trying to demonize the pair That gets them nowhere and only makes Jackson and Sharpton even more beloved, and why not? Pissing off the Right has a considerable upside.
Conservatives could neutralize J&A, but what it would take is something they have shown little interest in. Make Dr. King’s dream a reality and they’re both out of business.
That would require the Right to give up their fear and loathing of uppity Black men. But since conservatives like the Koch brothers like their Negroes docile and childlike (Where’s my mint julep, Herman Cain?) and hate to be reminded racism still exists that seems unlikely.
We are going to have to learn to live with Sharpton and Jackson, warts and all. Reservations aside, Trayvon Martin needs champions to find justice for him and while they are no Martin or Malcolm, this is the right cause even if they are the wrong men.
- Former NAACP leader accuses Sharpton and Jackson of ‘exploiting’ Trayvon Martin (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Roland Martin Slams Fmr. NAACP Pres. For Criticism Of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson In Trayvon Case (mediaite.com)
- NAACP Chief blasts Jackson and Sharpton as ‘race hustlers’ (tarpon.wordpress.com)
- Alveda King Calls Trayvon Martin’s Death A ‘Late Abortion’ On Fox News (mediaite.com)
MSNBC finally had enough of their in-house Little Hitler and fired Pat Buchanan. The aging old bigot greased the pole himself with his Suicide of A Superpower book where he whined about the end of White America by 2025.
Following his exile from the supposedly “liberal” cable channel, Buchanan fumed that his left-wing enemies had finally claimed his scalp.
My days as a political analyst at MSNBC have come to an end.
After 10 enjoyable years, I am departing, after an incessant clamor from the left that to permit me continued access to the microphones of MSNBC would be an outrage against decency, and dangerous.
The calls for my firing began almost immediately with the Oct. 18 publication of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”
A group called Color of Change, whose mission statement says that it “exists to strengthen Black America’s political voice,” claimed that my book espouses a “white supremacist ideology.” Color of Change took particular umbrage at the title of Chapter 4, “The End of White America.”
I know these blacklisters. They operate behind closed doors, with phone calls, mailed threats and off-the-record meetings. They work in the dark because, as Al Smith said, nothing un-American can live in the sunlight.
No one is being “blacklisted” here. Certainly not Buchanan. He’s still free to write his shitty books and columns and appear on whatever TV show that wants to air his rancid views. CNN and MSNBC have said, “no mas” so he’s free to continue polluting PBS and The McLaughlin Group or Fox News if they need another Glenn Beck type.
No surprise that Buchanan accepted no responsibility for his downfall. He’s not the self-reflective type. What was a slight surprise was how Buchanan’s bouncing triggered an onslaught of hand-wringing weeping and wailing from useful idiots like The Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan, the gay neo-conservative whose soft spot for bigots includes Ron Paul.
Sullivan wrote, “Sixteen years ago, when I came out as HIV-positive and quit TNR’s editorship, Buchanan, who had sparred relentlessly in public with me over gay equality, wrote me a personal hand-written note. He wrote he was saddened by what he heard – which was then regarded as an imminent death sentence – and wanted to say how he would pray that I would survive, if only so we could continue to argue and fight and debate for many more years. He was one of only two Washingtonians who did such a thing. I was moved beyond words. But he knew I loved a good argument as well. Over a gulf of ideological and philosophical difference, we could debate reasonably…He’s a complicated man and I will not defend for a second his views on many things. But he is also a compassionate and decent man in private and an honest intellectual in public.”
I particularly found this passage by Sullivan interesting, “He truly believes what he says and has read and researched a huge amount and has thought carefully about his extreme out-of-the-mainstream views. He is a serious figure in that respect. Compared with Al Sharpton or Ed Schultz, he is a paragon of intellectual integrity. He is not a propagandist. He is a passionate writer who loves nothing more than a good argument with a worthy opponent – and he has a serious sense of humor to boot.”
As far as Sullivan concerned it’s all good to be a racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, Nazi slurping, sexist bigot just so long as you have thought carefully out your extreme out-of-the-mainstream views and you have a sense of humor.
Sullivan extols Buchanan’s compassion and decency while ignoring how it does not extend to other gay men. This is the same “honest intellectual” who said AIDS was “nature’s revenge” and history of denouncing homosexuality includes remarks such as:
The gays may counter that the American Psychiatric Association has, of late, dropped homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. That, however, tells us less about the nature of homosexuals than about the moral courage of the APA. If a covey of quacks voted tomorrow that masochism, bestiality, and incest were not signs of personality disorder, that don’t necessarily make it so. One need not be a doctor of philosophy to know that when some 40-year-old male paints his face with rouge and lipstick and prances around in women’s clothes, he ain’t playing with a full deck.
Homosexuality is not a civil right. Its rise almost always is accompanied, as in the Weimar Republic, with a decay of society and a collapse of its basic cinder block, the family. Homosexuality involves sexual acts most men consider not only immoral, but filthy. The reason public men rarely say aloud what most say privately is they are fearful of being branded ‘bigots’ by an intolerant liberal orthodoxy that holds, against all evidence and experience, that homosexuality is a normal, healthy lifestyle.
There is no brief for police harassment or persecution of homosexuals. They have the same right to protection from exploitation as alcoholics, who are, likewise, sick people. As for putting practicing homosexuals in prison, as some state laws mandate, that is like throwing B’rer Rabbit into the briar patch.
As an openly gay man, Sullivan’s passionate defend of his buddy Buchanan is as indefensible as Jews that collaborated with the Nazis. What’s the gay equivalent of an Uncle Tom?
Buchanan can take his tired act over to Fox News after burning out at CNN and MSNBC. Fox is the logical last step for this Angry Old White Man before Stormfront, Nobody ever got fired from Fox for being too prejudiced.
The tolerance for Buchanan’s hatred for everything non-White, non-heterosexual and non-Christian is legendary, documented and unlimited. Idiots like Andrew Sullivan can kiss his Irish ass all they like, but for anyone who doesn’t fit into the Wonderful White World of Pat Buchanan, you’re on his enemies list.
I’m extremely pleased to consider myself as an enemy to all things Pat Buchanan. Sullivan should smarten up and realize Buchanan’s America has no room for gays, even conservative British ones.
- We Don’t Really Need to Debate Pat Buchanan’s Ideas to Debunk Them (thinkprogress.org)
- Why MSNBC Dumped Pat Buchanan: His 10 Most Outrageous Statements (kaystreet.wordpress.com)
- MSNBC and Pat Buchanan part ways. He blames everyone else. (dailykos.com)
- Pat Buchanan: Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish (themoderatevoice.com)
History will be made Saturday morning when Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University, hosts a morning political talk show on MSNBC. Asked what her show will be about Harris-Perry told The Amsterdam News, “Although it’s not a show about race-look, I’m a professor of African-American politics, so we’re going to be talking about race. I’m a feminist, so we’re going to be talking about gender. I’m a parent, so we’re going to be talking about kids and young people. I live in the South, so we’re going to talk about politics beyond the D.C.-to-New-York corridor. It’s a political show but it definitely has a point of view.”
Those are points of view absent from the Sunday morning talking heads shows where Black women are non-existent. I welcome Harris-Perry and wish her well. But there’s no news that someone can’t find a way to receive it as bad. Enter Cornel “the ‘Fro” West and his Mini-Me, Boyce Watkins.
In an interview, West unloaded on Harris-Perry, his former colleague at Princeton. “I have a love for the sister, but she is a liar, and I hate lying,’ says West. . . . She’s become the momentary darling of the liberals, but I pray for her because she’s in over her head. She’s a fake and a fraud. I was so surprised how treacherous the sister was.’
Yet before West heated up a clothes hanger to whip on Harris-Perry with, Watkins had scribbled his own bit of character assassination with a piece, “5 Reasons Melissa Harris-Perry is Perfect for MSNBC.”
If I end up sounding like a hater, it’s because I probably am. White people, as a collective, have never like (sic) me very much and advocating for black folks has never been an easy way to pay the bills. Also, my gripe with Melissa is the same I’d have with any black person who allows herself to be propped up by the Democrats to do their dirty work against Cornel West as he spoke on behalf of black, brown and poor people. Harris never proved that Dr. West was wrong – she only sought to discredit him and dismantle his voice. In that regard, she was no different from a slave using the master’s gun to kill the leader of the negro rebellion.
She is clearly a liberal who happens to be a black woman, not a black woman who happens to be a liberal…The whole light-skinned black liberal thing works in her favor: I should start by noting that I’m a bit light-skinned myself and nearly all of my relatives are of the “high-yella” variety (I was adopted). So, this is not meant to offend anyone with light skin.
In one breath, Watkins says he doesn’t mean to offend light-skinned Blacks. Can you guess what he follows that caution with? If you guessed offending light-skinned Blacks, you win!
But, the emergence of Barack Obama has opened the door for quite a few light-skinned, non-threatening, black superstars of both politics and media: Cory Booker, Harold Ford, Don Lemon on CNN and a few others have been able to benefit from this wave. Harris-Perry is a perfect fit as the (in the words of cousin Pookie) “light-skinded-ded,” red-bone, highly educated liberal that white folks tend to love. Nothing militant will come out of her mouth, unless she’s angry about a new immigration law or some civil liberties violation in the National Defense Authorization Act. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with the “light-skinned liberal analyst” phenomenon, but I wonder how successful these folks might be if they looked like they were siblings of Wesley Snipes – darker skinned commentators and pundits deserve opportunities as well, and I argue that they are being put to the side (can you think of one dark-skinned person in prime time media? Me neither).
The cherry on top of Watkins talking out of both sides of his mouth comes with a slap at Harris-Perry for doing the exact same thing he does.
Black journalists have long complained about what Al Sharpton referred to as “All white, all night,” in which most of the major cable news outlets didn’t have any hosts of color on their nightly branded shows. The best way to shut down that criticism is to hire Al Sharpton himself, which is exactly what MSNBC did. But one challenge is that neither Sharpton, nor Harris-Perry, is a professionally-trained journalist, so there are still quite a few talented black journalists who are seething over the fact that MSNBC went after black scholars and activists, rather than seasoned media professionals.
For the record, I am not a real journalist either. I am one of those scholar/activists who’s been able to benefit from the bias of which I am speaking (I have more media appearances than nearly all of my journalist friends).
Nobody made more of an issue about Sharpton landing the MSNBC gig than I did, but Watkins has twisted the legitimate concerns of “real journalists” who would like to see Blacks who do this thing for a living a shot at these television gigs as well as Black scholars and activists.
Watkins doesn’t like Harris-Perry, he’s not happy for her and he even goes so far as to question her Blackness and commitment to Black people because she prefers Obama to West. It just comes off as that small-minded, crabs in a barrel mentality that keeps us busy squabbling over small stuff that isn’t worth squat.
Call me a cynic, but this “I won’t do cable TV ’cause I want to keep it real” rap is more than a little self-serving. There are too many Black folks who are doing cable TV and they aren’t running away from their Blackness by doing so. Watkins spew out a hit piece that is mean, petty, and it smacks of simple envy. If MSNBC offered Watkins a show he’d run over West to get it.
On his Facebook page, Watkins denied everything in response to my challenging him about Harris-Perry.
Brother, I can give you the real deal on the “smell test” – my goal is not to be objective about Melissa or to politely say “congratulations” to someone I think is bad for black America.
I make it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that I am not appreciative of Melissa’s views. Her attacks on Cornel were uncalled for and unvalidated – I was very angry at the way she allowed white folks to prop her up on a platform so she could do the dirty work for the Democrats who were upset that Cornel was out speaking on behalf of poor, black and brown folks.
To answer any questions that might be asked about my remarks…no, I don’t want a f*cking job at MSNBC. I’ve been on all the networks numerous times and could have gotten quite a few gigs had I been a “good boy.” I’ve lost millions for speaking what I believe to be the truth and my only goal is to seek independence of thought and commerce for black America. In far too many cases, major black voices are controlled by white-owned media outlets and corporations – That’s why I put all my money and time into yourblackworld.com, which allows me to get my message to the public without having to ask for a white man’s permission. I don’t hate white folks, but the truth is that their agenda is almost always different from your own and they always view us as second-class citizens.
Someone who is “bad for Black America?” What is about Melissa Harris-Perry that is “bad for Black America?” What’s really bad for Black America are Black academics talking smack like winos on the corner.
Harris-Perry took issue with West when he whined to a WHITE guy (Chris Hedges) how hurt he was that he didn’t get a personal invitation to Obama’s inauguration.
West came off like a jilted girlfriend, not a preeminent Black intellectual. It was pompous, it was small and it was arrogant as hell. Cornel West wasn’t speaking out for poor, Black and brown folks. He was ticked off that “the dear brother” who brought his bags to his hotel room had a ticket to the Inauguration and he didn’t.
There is a cost for working in the mainstream (just ask Roland Martin), but I’m not buying the line only those out of it care about, protect the interests of, and love Black people. No one is required to watch MHP on MSNBC. Just don’t say you’re “happy” for her when you have made it crystal clear you are anything but.
Going after Harris-Perry for being “light-skinned” is as petty at it gets. By the Boyce Watkins standard, only folks as dark as Wesley Snipes (or Clarence Thomas!) can legitimately criticize other Blacks because they are “dark enough to decide who is really part of the club.
The weakest attack to make against someone is to cast doubts upon the content of the character based upon the color of their skin. Black academics love a good disagreement, but when the intellectual quality of the argument doesn’t rise to the level of a beef between second-rate rappers, that’s pathetic.
West and Watkins are too smart brothers. They should be smart enough to expend their brain power on a real problem facing Black folks. Harris-Perry getting a TV show isn’t one of them. Then again, maybe there’s another reason for Watkins and West’s “bros before hos” smackdown of MHP. Maybe it’s nothing more than sexism. Plain and simple, they are simply asserting their male prerogative to put an uppity sista in her place.
Sometimes its most obvious reasons that are the least considered.
The next time West and Smiley plan a road trip for self-serving publicity, they should pack a booster seat in the back and bring Boyce Watkins along for the ride.
- Al Sharpton defends Melissa Harris Perry from Cornel West attacks (thegrio.com)
- Intelligentsia Beef: Cornel West Calls Melissa Harris-Perry A Fake and a Fraud (clutchmagonline.com)
- Black Intellectuals Go At it Again (theroot.com)
- Melissa Harris-Perry becomes only black female to host a political talk show in cable news (thegrio.com)
This would still be just another non-journalist media “celebrity” receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent.
The National Association of Black Journalists invited the Reverend Al Sharpton to last week to speak at their convention. He accepted the invitation. Then he turned it down.
The Reverend Al Sharpton blew off the convention based upon his anger at statements made on the NABJ discussion board by two members. I am one of those two. I wonder if the other guy is feeling like events have swirled out of their control.
It’s not always fun being stuck in the eye of the storm. It’s even less fun when only half of what you say gets any notice.
There’s a saying that a lie can be half way around the world before truth puts on its shoes. The same thing applies to misinformation except in cyberspace it can be all the way around the world before truth even wakes up.
In my nearly 20 years as a reporter, editor, columnist and blogger, I have been at the center of controversy more than once. A syndicated radio show host called me a “Sambo.” I’ve had more than a few readers accuse me of being a “White-hating militant.” There is no need for me to declare who I am to anyone who doesn’t know me. When I write something I never declare it to be the definitive truth. It is simply my truth and truth is subjective. It can be accepted, rejected or ignored.
It’s regrettable Sharpton chose to blow off over a thousand Black journalists because in his words, he “would have been a distraction” by showing up. Sharpton was scheduled to be part of a discussion on presidential politics as part of a panel with Cornel West, former RNC chairman Michael Steele, author Sophia Nelson and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
Sharpton said in an interview, “I was invited to come speak about politics and the upcoming presidential election. If they had invited me to talk about whether advocates and activist organizations should host talk shows, I would have considered coming to discuss those kinds of things. But to put me on a political panel and then for it to go into something else about MSNBC, that wouldn’t have been good.”
I have no idea what moderator Roland Martin would have asked Sharpton or what questions he would have gotten from attendees. But so what if the MSNBC question or my remarks would have come up. I know Sharpton wasn’t invited to talk about whether he was getting a show or not. By refusing to attend he made his absence the issue and a huge distraction. Or does he think Martin and NABJ president Kathy Times were calling to ask him to reconsider because they had nothing better to do?
The issue is not whether or not Sharpton should get a show. It never was the issue. Since so many seem to have missed out on what the subject actually was here is a reminder from Carole Simpson as reported by Richard Prince on his Journal-isms column.
Carole Simpson, the retired ABC News anchor, echoed Winbush in a telephone interview Wednesday with Mallary Jean Tenore of the Poynter Institute.
“[Sharpton] was not a journalist. It seems like having a name is more important than your credentials and the news you’ve covered, and how well you did as a reporter and how much you did as a thinker and writer about the issues of the day,” she said. “Who’s going to get the eyeballs? … That’s the bottom line. It’s all about eyeballs. It’s the drive for ratings.
“I have nothing against the Rev. Al. I’ve known him for years. I’ve covered him, but he doesn’t sound like a professional broadcaster. Somebody sounding like that wouldn’t typically be hired by any station. Yeah, as a pundit. He’s an intelligent man. I give him credit for that. But he doesn’t sound like a professional broadcaster.
“But he’s controversial, he’s provocative, he yells, and so they’re looking for personalities and not journalists. The problem that I have, as NABJ has, is fine — hire somebody of color — but how about a journalist? Not a reverend. I don’t get it.”
I don’t either. The point was never whether or not Sharpton should get the MSNBC gig. The point was why can’t a journalist even be considered?
My comment has appeared on Blackamericaweb.com, Beliefnet, the conservative Accuracy In Media website, three times on Prince’s column, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, read by Keith Olbermann on his newly revived Countdown program and last week Politco picked it up.
With the exception of Prince nobody has picked up the phone or dropped me an e-mail asking me why I wrote what I wrote. The comment is all that matters. The commentator is irrelevant.
Sharpton has run for president. He’s faced down angry White mobs in Howard Beach, Bensonhurst, and Crown Heights. He’s gone head-to-head with the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. He’s been in screaming matches with Cornel West. Sharpton has taken on professional back breakers and walked away with a big winning grin on his face.
Last week he got in a shouting match with that old Nazi sympathizing racist Pat Buchanan over his calling President Obama “your boy.”
Am I supposed to believe Sharpton is afraid to take on a freelance writer and blogger from Columbus, Ohio he’s never heard of? If Sharpton had shown up in Philadelphia and someone asked him a question about the NABJ list serve he didn’t want to answer there’s a simple two-word response, “no comment.”
The mind boggles at the suggestion, but it seems to be a reality.
Sharpton said, “People are making conclusions based off their assumptions. I’ve been guilty of this too in the past, so I understand it, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that people are rushing to judgment.”
No argument there, Reverend. Unfortunately, since you haven’t bothered to get the story, you are one of those people. What you believe I said was not necessarily what I meant.
The Germans, when they weren’t conquering Europe coined a word to describe the pleasure or satisfaction others receive from the misfortunes of others. Schadenfreude is the word and over the last two weeks I’ve given a lot of folks I’ve never met a lot of pleasure.
Jeff, I’m hearing your name everywhere. Even this morning on my drive in to work, I hear about your thoughts on the whole MSNBC thing. How is this newfound (or renewed) stardom treating you?
That was a message waiting for me when I signed on to Facebook the other day. I had no idea what my friend was talking about.
It turns out she was talking about me being talked about on The Tom Joyner Show. The fly jock was jockin’ my name regarding remarks I made about the Reverend Al Sharpton replacing Cenk Uygur on MSNBC.
Jeff Johnson, a contributor to Joyner’s morning radio show and a writer for Black America Web.com had some thoughts he wanted to share about what I had said on my blog and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) discussion board that had been picked up by media reporter Richard Prince on his Journal-isms column and gone nationwide.
Prince wrote in his July 21 column: When rumors surfaced this week that Sharpton was under consideration for the MSNBC job, one NABJ member told colleagues without challenge, “This would still be just another non-journalist media ‘celebrity’ receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent.”
That observation became the centerpiece every critic and supporter of the Sharpton hire springboarded off of.
Johnson rolled up his pants legs and waded in on Blackamericaweb in an essay, “Don’t Hate on Sharpton-Congratulate Him”:
For years, there have been no black hosts in primetime cable news and fewer than a handful anywhere in cable news. Last week, that reality was served a blow when MSNBC decided to announce that Rev. Al Sharpton would become the network’s newest host, filling the 6 p.m. hour of the cable network’s programming. Now, MSNBC had been using Rev. Sharpton to fill in for Cenk Uygur and then seemingly opened space for him to continue to audition (if you will) for the spot. I heard my fair share of comments regarding his performance, from praise to reasonable critique, to straight-up hate. And when it was finally announced that he would get the spot, the naysayers came out of the woodwork.
Even Keith Olbermann, a former MSNBC host, weighed in, helping to spread one of the most reported quotes about Sharpton’s hiring from Ohio journalist Jeff Winbush. He stated, “This would still be just another non-journalist media ‘celebrity’ receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent.” It is important to state that Winbush went further to say that he did not have an issue with Sharpton, but wanted legitimate black journalists to get an honest shot at this type of opportunity.
I hope that we as a community pause, put this into perspective and make the most of this moment in time.
As a growing journalist myself, I want to see seasoned, tested and consistent black journalists get greater visibility as well. However, let us not allow others to use this moment to create division between us.
I guess I’m supposed to one of those “others” Johnson says is creating division. I always wanted to be an “other.”
This was apparently the quote heard round the world.
It showed up on Roland Martin’s website, The Poynter Institute which covers media-related issues, Blackamericaweb.com, Beliefnet, Media Bistro, the conservative Accuracy In Media site and places I never knew existed. When I learned Media Takeout, the Black-oriented celebrity and scandal site, had picked up on it with the headline, “Jealousy??? Black Journalists Criticize MSNBC…For Hiring Al Sharpton!!!”, I knew things had snowballed into something way beyond my control.
A quick Google search of “Al Sharpton, Jeff Winbush” found this article from EEW Magazine Buzz:
Is it the age old “crabs-in-the-barrel” syndrome among African Americans? Or does National Association of Black Journalists member, Jeff Winbush, have good reason to get all huffy about MSNBC’s rumored plans to hire Reverend Al Sharpton for a primetime nightly hosting gig?
Winbush’s written commentary about the decision to potentially hire Al Sharpton has made its rounds online. Said Winbush, “This would still be just another non-journalist media ‘celebrity’ receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent… “
On the one hand, black folks complain about not having a visible role on primetime cable news. On the other hand, once someone is chosen, complainers are not satisfied because they would like to see someone else get a shot.
Can anybody really win?
Although there is merit to Winbush’s argument that qualified journalists of color consistently get passed over for these type positions, should we allow that issue to cloud the fact that one of our own may be getting a nationwide platform to advance our causes and interests?
Then there was this from J.C. Brooks at EURWeb:
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the NAACP have been asking for more faces of color at the news desks across the country, but for some reason when Al Sharpton was asked to consider a position at MSNBC’s news desk in the 6pm slot, he was met with strong words and, to make it simple, a little “hateration.”
One member of the NABJ took to his blog saying, “‘This would still be just another non-journalist media ‘celebrity’ receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent.”‘ Well, when Jeff Winbush made that comment, it took off across the Internet, columns, and even Keith Olbermann’s new “Countdown” show. Now he feels he should clarify his statements.
According to Journal-isms, Sharpton was asked how he felt about the controversy that stirred up with Winbush’s comments and he told the Root.com, “We can’t get into a crabs-in-the-barrel mentality,” Sharpton said. “We cannot let them play us off one another. There is a history here. Kweisi Mfume had a talk show. Jesse Jackson Jr. had a talk show. If someone can advocate nationwide, we need to do that given the pain of our people. We need to do that on television, in newspapers and magazines. And all of us need to be united.”
The Root’s Leslie Holloway further clarified that the position being offered to Sharpton is not one of news, but “opinions and advocacy.” Winbush contends that he didn’t want to stir anything up with Sharpton and that he has “no ill will” toward the community crusader, he just wants journalists to get a fair shake too.
They both make sense, but most journalists and everyone else were given the wrong impression. The media reported Sharpton’s position as one of a 6pm news format and in that capacity, Winbush and fellow journalists had reason for concern.
Concern? Yeah, you might say I was concerned. Mostly because my name was floating around as ripping Sharpton and had mutated from a pointed observation to a truncheon to bludgeon a non-journalist taking a gig away from somebody more deserving.
What surprises me most is how nobody ever asked me why I made the remarks about Sharpton in the first place. If anyone had bothered to ask I would have explained I’m not anti-Sharpton, I’m pro-Black journalists. All I did was point out Reverend Al is a man of the cloth, not the Associated Press style book.
Nobody wanted to hear that. I thought I had exposed an inconvenient truth. The truth is all these writers on these websites wanted was a juicy pull quote. Once they got it, it was time to whip up a controversy that all these Black journalists were upset over Sharpton beating them out of a gig when the only person who said jack was me.
Richard Prince’s Journal-isms column ran a follow-up where he identified me as the source of the controversial quote. I was glad Prince gave me a chance to clarify my remarks, but the follow-up never gets the kind of play as the original statement.
Freelance journalist Jeff Winbush wants it known that he is not hatin’ on the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Winbush is a blogger in Columbus, Ohio, a former editor of the black newspaper the Columbus Post and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. More to the point, he was the source of a quote in Thursday’s “Journal-isms” about MSNBC’s reported readiness to hire Sharpton for its 6 p.m. slot.
“When rumors surfaced this week that Sharpton was under consideration for the MSNBC job, one NABJ member told colleagues without challenge, ‘This would still be just another non-journalist media “celebrity” receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent,’ ” the column read.
Winbush’s quote reverberated around the Internet and was even shown, with the column, on Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” show on Current TV. Olbermann was fired by MSNBC, where his show was also called “Countdown,” in January. On Thursday, Olbermann gave a platform to Cenk Uygur, the former MSNBC host whose slot has been filed temporarily by Sharpton.
“MSNBC Set To Hire Sharpton; Black Journalists Slam Impending Hire,” one headline read.
” ‘Slam?’ I did no such thing. I said nothing of the sort,” Winbush told Journal-isms by email. “I was not attacking him personally. I bear him no ill will. I simply want to see Black journalists get a fair shot as well.”
There is no control when the Internet gets hold of something you say or do. If it’s caught by a camera it will soon be slapped on You Tube. If it’s a muttered racist remark everybody will hear it. There is no hiding place in cyberspace.
I’ve written several miles worth of columns and essays taking on and taking down politicians, celebrities and other pundits. Keith Olbermann and Sharpton are among the many subjects I’ve praised, slammed or damned, so I can’t really bitch about having my words thrown back in my face. My words are like my kids and they belong to me. I can’t distance myself from them and I can’t deny I said what I said.
After all the times I’ve bad-talked Michael Steele, I’m surprised he hasn’t called to say, “How it’s feel to get played, brother?”
It’s been an interesting experience. Next time though I would hope over something I said that was actually newsworthy instead of scandalous.
Next week I’ll be in Philadelphia attending the National Association of Black Journalists Convention. I’ll have more to say later about the convention, but a lot of my “friends” will be there. Sharpton will be there. So will Michael Steele, Cornel West, Roland Martin, Jeff Johnson, Melissa Harris-Perry, Joel Dreyfuss, editor of The Root, and Arianna Huffington among a cast of thousands.
For Black journalists next week is our Woodstock. There’s going to be far more partying, drinking, and over indulgence in four days than most folks will do in four months, but for me it will also be an opportunity to look some of the people who got my remarks wrong and set them right.
And if I get a chance to get close enough to Reverend Sharpton and shake his hand, I’ll introduce myself and tell him how sorry I am my name was used to scandalize his. Sharpton is taking heat not from his enemies on the Right, but from the Left as both The Daily Caller and The Huffington Post have blasted MSNBC for ousting Uygur and replacing a White liberal with a Black liberal.
I’m no fan of U2. Not even a bit, but I have to credit Bono and the boys this much. They came up with a song that perfectly captures the mixed emotions one experiences when something they say gets all mashed up into something unrecognizable as your original thought. When the media starts manipulating it is like being stuck in a moment you can’t get out of.
You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment and you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better now
You’re stuck in a moment and you can’t get out of it
- Vibe and Vegas Show: Black Journalists Question Plans by Msnbc to Hire Al Sharpton (thevibeandvegasshow.wordpress.com)
- Exclusive: Sharpton on Black Journalists (theroot.com)
- Token Gestures and Table Scraps (jeffwinbush.com)
- Keith Olbermann Trashes MSNBC Over Rev. Sharpton Hire, Suggests Quid Pro Quo (mediaite.com)
From Media Bistro’s TVNewser:
Cenk Uygur was thrust onto the MSNBC schedule in January, when Keith Olbermann‘s departure set in motion several host changes on the progressive channel’s lineup.
Now TVNewser hears Uygur may be moved out of the 6pm hour, possibly to be replaced by Al Sharpton. When the host changes happened earlier this year, the 6pm hour was simply known as “MSNBC Live,” a telling sign that MSNBC was trying out Uygur.
Sharpton has hosted the 6pm show for the last two weeks. This past week, the hour was second, to Fox News, in A25-54 viewers Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
IF true, that’s great for Rev. Al. Cornel West won’t be as happy for the “dear brother,” but even if I’m not a Sharpton supporter it’ is a step in the right direction to get some color on the television. A good start is ALL it would be though.
This would still be just another non-journalist media “celebrity” receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition instead of their years of experience, training, ability and talent. Hooray for popularity but for a veteran and seasoned Black journalist who deserves a shot at a show, they still have to go begging.
But this is what happens when we always go begging to the White man with our empty bowl and say, “Please throw us a crumb.” If Al Sharpton gets a show at 6:00 pm, that’s cool, but it’s NOT primetime where Blacks and Asians and Hispanics are invisible on ALL the cable news channels unless they’re guest analysts trotted out to be the “Black authority” on a race-based issue.
Television executives have learned how to brush aside complaints their programming lacks diversity. They find a Black personality willing to play ball with them, stick them outside of the prime time peak viewing hours and the minority pressure groups go away temporarily satisfied with the token representation.
Why not sweat the HNIC’s at TV One and BET to step their game up and switch out yet another “Fresh Prince” rerun for something like ONE news program during weekdays? Why do they always get a pass when we have these debates about the lack of Black representation on cable?
I’m tired of the strategy of the National Association of Black Journalists and other pressure groups dogging out the execs at Fox, CNN and MSNBC saying’ “Please, baby, baby, Please” but for Alfred Liggins and Debra Lee we won’t say shit even if we have a mouthful of the televised dung TV1 and BET programs. What about Oprah Winfrey who has an entire network named after her? What is there on the Oprah Winfrey Network that reflects Black life (and no, a talk show for Oprah’s gal pal, Gayle King does not count).
Once upon a time BET did have news programming such as BET News with Ed Gordon, BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley and BET Nightly News with Michelle Miller and Jacque Reed. BET dropped most of its news and public affairs programming in 2000 and BET Nightly News in 2005. Viacom purchased BET in 2003.
With Viacom’s money behind BET there is no question the dollars exist for some news and public affairs programming, but where is the will for it? It’s one thing to talk about the hot mess the BET Awards are, but its something else to remain strangely quiet about the lack of news on BET, TV One (with the notable exception of Mr. Roland Martin’s Washington Watch program) and the most powerful woman in the media, Oprah Winfrey and the OWN Network.
Meeting with the head of CNN to ask he consider giving an African-American some consideration for a program is cool. But why should Black executives get a pass from the same scrutiny NABJ submits White executives to?
It’s cowardly to demand White men like CNN President Jim Walton do a better job of representing African-Americans while ignoring the Black folks like Liggins, Lee and Winfrey who barely even acknowledge they exist. The days when Blacks were supposed to feel a sense of pride when we got “one of our own” in a place where there were no Blacks at all has passed. If accountability means anything at all, it applies to out-of-touch Black executives as well as White ones.
At what point do we demand the so-called “Black” cable channels provide more than music videos, award shows and bad reality TV instead of always pleading to the White man for a few hours of face time? It’s past time we start building up our own networks and news channels to give us something more than the same safe, brain-numbing, unambitious crap.
The Al Sharpton Show would be great if it happens— for Al Sharpton. For everybody else it changes nothing much at all. Token gestures and table scraps are not enough and never were. A real and systemic adjustment needs to made in how a job ALL the television networks represent Black people. That won’t change until change is demanded by those who make the decisions whose stories are told and whose are ignored.
If you never ask the question the answer is always “no.” I’m not asking BET, TV One or OWN to take on CBS, CNN or Fox. I’m just thinking it’s not too presumptuous to ask for something more enlightening than another 30-year-old rerun of “The Flip Wilson Show.”