Tom Joyner conducts an Intervention for Tavis Smiley.

"Tavis...Tavis...can I just say one word...just one? C'mon man..."


Tom Joyner is trying to save Tavis Smiley from his two worst enemies:  His Super-Sized ego and his ever open mouth. Good luck, Tom, but you can’t can’t talk sense to a man madly in love with the sound of his own voice. 

I’ve already addressed how Tavis finally tore his drawers with me after he copped a nasty attitude with Obama when he declined to come off the campaign trail to attend the 2008 State of the Black Union conference.   Joyner, the radio jock who gave Tavis a forum on his radio program recently blogged in an open letter to his former contributor how pained he is by the hits Tavis has taken for his role as the president’s loudest Black critic not named Michael Steele.  

I hope that somehow, someway, Tavis will realize that if he is ever to gain the love and respect he once received from black America, he will have to find it in his heart to show love and respect for the president. It’s just that simple. And there’s a big difference in saying you have love and showing it.   

Love is unconditional – or it should be anyway. That’s why I can be upset and disappointed with Tavis and some of the decisions he’s made over the last few years, but still love and respect him enough not to turn my back on him.

When I hear and read about the hate people have for Tavis right now, it makes me sad. Because I know that if Tavis knew how to get out of this situation, he would. But it’s not in him to do what needs to be done, to recognize he has gone down a wrong path, and his only real option is to turn around. 

Joyner has identified the problem, analyzed it, and come up with a prescription for Tavis:  Get off your ego-trip.  You ain’t nearly as big as you think you are and you’re definitely not bigger than the President of the United States.  Especially not this President of the United States. 

But Tavis doesn’t get it.  He can’t believe it’s his own big, flapping mouth and ugly ego that’s done him in.  His March 11, appearance on Joyner’s show proves how clueless he remains even now. 

"Okay, I'll pay YOU $20 bucks to read my book, but that's my best offer!"


…As the Obama campaign predicted, once Black folk got to know him, they would support him.  And they did.  The switch was on, and some Negroes started acting like they’d been down with Obama from jump. 

Now, silly me, I’m thinking that no matter who the candidate is, we’re still going to talk about holding everybody accountable to this this Black agenda that we’ve all agreed.  Silly me.  Because what I heard was “Move B, get out the way, get out the way, get out the way!” 

And so, by the time we get to the final book in this trilogy, Accountable, Negroes have done a 180 degree turn on this Black agenda, and nobody seems interested in that conversation.  And so, Accountable doesn’t get anywhere near The New York Times bestseller list. 

What’s been funny for me is to look at the names printed in the back of The Covenant book.  People who supported that accountable agenda, that Black agenda, back in the day; and through this radio program sent in their ancestors’ and baby photos for the covers of these books.  How funny for me now to look at the names printed in the back of those books.  Many of these same folk have since sent me some of the nastiest e-mails and written some of the most virulent blogs I have ever read.  

 Its okay to be Black and hold the opinion Obama isn’t doing all he can to help out Black folks.   There is also nothing wrong with the suggestion every politician, regardless of race should be held accountable.   But you’re not going to make a lot of friends in Black America by constantly hammering Obama like he owes you money.  It’s to be expected when a Larry Elder, Armstrong Williams or some other Negro conservative nobody cares about pounds the president.   Smiley says he does it with love and respect.  Like the song goes, “Who needs love like that?”

Tavis thinks its somebody’s fault Accountable died a painful death at bookstores and he’s found someone to blame: YOU.  You didn’t buy his book.   You didn’t make Accountable a best-seller.  You didn’t put more money in Smiley’s pocket.  Tavis is in the business of selling Tavis Smiley, but what happens if nobody’s buying?  

There is a tough lesson that every author of a failed book must learn:  A book that doesn’t sell is Mother Nature’s way of telling you to write a better book.    Literary agents ask writers, “Why does the world need this book?”  In the case of Accountable the “Negroes” that make up Smiley’s core audience had become hip to his anti-Obama bias and so they took their $25 somewhere else.  Sucks for him. 

The Chicago Connection: Obama and Joyner.


I wish Tavis would also realize what the people DON’T want. And the rule is simple: They don’t want you criticizing President Obama in public. Ever. It may be unfair and unrealistic, but it is what it is.

Whether anyone wants to admit it, this thing black America has for the prez ain’t no ordinary love. It’s about one step below worship. It’s special. It’s personal. And it’s unconditional 

I saw Joyner in action at the UNITY ’08 convention and he worked hard talking up Obama’s candidacy.  His support of Obama is as solid as Smiley’s is shaky, Joyner has it all wrong in one aspect.  This thing about “unconditional love” for President Obama?   That’s not me.  I reserve my unconditional love for my family, not politicians.  I also reserve the right to change my mind.  If Obama comes up soft and starts selling out the interests of African Americans, I won’t need Tavis Smiley to hold the president responsible.  I can do that with my ballot in 2012.  

I feel a great deal of respect, admiration and patience for the president.  What Obama needs most from Black people is our patience and not a ton of unrealistic and unsophisticated wishes.   If Tavis feels so strongly the O-man isn’t living up to his agenda, he can always run against him in 2012.  I’d pay good money to see that happen. 

Most people are smarter than  Smiley.  Obama can’t deliver on 40 acres and a mule.  They know a Black president pushing an overtly “Black” agenda is destined to a short career once non-Black voters wonder why nobody is looking out for their interests.   Obama needs to pursue a successful American agenda, not a Black, Latino or White agenda.   

Job growth and creation helps everyone.  The recent extension of unemployment benefits is a benefit from everyone looking for work.  The president’s plans to reform the student loans system will be a plus even for those who don’t attend historically Black colleges and universities. 

Hillary feelin' the heat of Tavis' jungle fever.


Do we all need to sing from the same choir book?  Hell, no!   Black people have never been monolithic in their thinking.  Nobody is saying Obama is above criticism.   Just don’t make an industry of it the way Smiley and his Black Pack do.   Smiley’s selfish need to be the center of  the universe makes it unlikely he will heed Joyner’s advice.   But while he continues to obsess about Obama it is a certainty Obama is not obsessing about him.  

It is time for the rest of us to follow suit.

4 thoughts on “Tom Joyner conducts an Intervention for Tavis Smiley.

  1. This is an amazing blog. It is entertaining and extremely well written. Congrats to you, Jeff. I have no idea if you’re the same Jeff Winbush I was in contact with many years ago, but if you are, double kudos.I found a link at Richard Prince’s Journal-isms.
    Tony Norman
    Columnist / Associate Editor
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


  2. Man…this blog is the shit. You got Tavis’ number. I’m hope you can expose Dr. Dyson next. He’s the worst if the black pack opportunists. Just look at how fast he wrote that rebuttal to Cosby’s comments…

    Thanks again for another good post.


  3. Pingback: Tavis Smiley’s beef with Obama: ‘he hasn’t invited me to the White House’ … seriously : The Reid Report

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