The job of the artist, the activist and the journalist is to engage in uncomfortable analysis. If they don’t then all they’re feeding the masses is a steady diet of nothing but comfort food. There is no intellectual nourishment in always entertaining people.
Then there’s Tavis Smiley. The self-appointed President of Black America who has been both a race hustler and a shameless corporate shill even as he prowls the country on a “poverty tour” designed for no other reason than to try to embarrass the twice-elected President of the United States.
Not that is has. Lately nobody seems to notice Tavis and his stunts. His pandering for press attention has reached Lindsay Lohan levels of desperation. For a minute it was fun to watch Smiley babble how he was going to hold Barack Obama “accountable.” It became clear Smiley really desired Obama to be accountable to him.
That’s when the rank odor of Smiley’s bullshit finally became overwhelming. Smiley used the 10th anniversary of his PBS television program to accuse the White House of pressuring advertisers to abandon his show and of course he had a reason why they would go after him.
“This administration does not like to be criticized. And the irony of it is, there’s nothing I have tried to hold the president accountable on that my white progressive colleagues have not…They’re labeled courageous critics, but if I say it, I’m an ‘Obama critic.’ There’s race at play in the very question…“I don’t have an anti-Barack agenda but this is what I do: My job is to raise questions of accountability.”
Oh Tavis, really? Now you’re so desperate to play the victim you’re reduced to hiding behind your “White progressive colleagues” as your beard? Negro, please. Your “White progressive colleagues” aren’t the ones grinding an axe since 2008 when you began your “I Hate Obama” campaign after he declined to appear at your State of Black America conference to kiss your arrogant ass.
The causal observer may notice when Smiley speaks about President Obama he asserts he’s only trying to hold him accountable. This might lead you to think that was Smiley’s favorite word. Perhaps it is and not simply the title of a book Smiley wrote that bombed. Here’s the thing about that word. It can be applied to Smiley too as it was in 2009 when citizen journalist Faye Anderson looked into the race hustlers rewarding relationship with Wells Fargo in pushing sub-prime loans to African-Americans.
Smiley’s complete lack of credibility and anti-Obama agenda has subjected him to a withering barrage of criticism for his latest unsubstantiated charges against the president.
Shannon Williams: Over the years I have watched Smiley go from a balanced public speaker who offered credible and thought-provoking perspective to his analyses to a bitter man who has used his platform to unjustly attack people who, in his opinion, have treated him in a bad or disrespectful manner. It almost seems as if he has had some sort of breakdown over the years that has caused him to speak in a vindictive and erratic manner. Though a breakdown would be a good escape goat, I think Smiley’s true problem is an overinflated ego. When people haven’t done what he thinks they should do, that ego gets bruised and Smiley gets angry. The way he “repays” the “wrongdoers” is he publically talks about them under the guise that he is holding them accountable.
Accountability is a marvelous thing that we all should be held to, but the said conclusions need to be derived from a thorough and fair judgment system. Public accountability cannot hold a personal vendetta.
Eric Wattree: …why would Tavis’s corporate benefactors even want to hide the fact that they were being pressured by Obama? Trying to put pressure on Walmart, Nationwide Insurance, or Exxon/Mobile would not only be extremely dumb on the part of the administration, but it would be a gift from God to Tavis’s ALEC connected corporate benefactors. Can you just imagine what Darrell Issa could do with something like that in his House Oversight Kangaroo Committee? He’d turn it into Watergate.
So it seems that yet again Tavis is being deluded by his overblown ego – the same ego that made him assume that Obama had an obligation to come on his “State of the Black Union” show to be anointed by Tavis to run for president; the same ego that made him think that he’s been slighted when Obama failed to do so; the same ego that caused him to go all over the media complaining that “For the very first time in my career I haven’t been invited to the White House;” and the very same ego that made him think that he had enough clout in the Black community to challenge the first Black president of the United States.
The fact is, President Obama hasn’t given either Tavis Smiley, or Cornel West, a second thought since he’s been in office. He hasn’t had to, because he, like just about everyone else in America – at least, with good sense – could see that he didn’t have to. Tavis and West were making themselves look like perfect fools on their own accord, so the president didn’t have to say, or do a thing. All he had to do was sit back and watch them implode – and that’s exactly what he’s done.
Michael H. Cottman: In a month where Republicans have accused Obama of everything imaginable –with the possible exception of Robert Griffin III’s knee injury — it seems that Smiley snagged a timely moment to pile on.
I would argue that the White House doesn’t care enough about Smiley to assemble a team of administration officials who would surreptitiously spend time thinking up new and creative ways to suppress Smiley’s voice.
Smiley says his self-imposed mandate in life is to hold Obama’s feet to the fire and keep him accountable to black people. That’s his choice and his path to follow, but I don’t believe there’s a clandestine campaign within the Obama administration that is secretly trying to shut Smiley down.
He’s just not that important.
Couldn’t have said it any better myself. There is no reason for Obama to sic the dogs on Smiley because his importance is largely in his own mind and his impact is nil. Take down Tavis? Why bother? He doing a fine job of it all by himself.
- COMMENTARY: Tavis to Obama: Stop Trying to Shut Me Down (blackamericaweb.com)
- Tavis Smiley: White House Pressured Sponsors to Pull Support (theroot.com)
- Covert Conspiracy Against Tavis Smiley (thoughtprovokingperspectives.wordpress.com)