This month, Tavis Smiley will celebrate his 10th anniversary as the host of PBS’ daily talk show “Tavis Smiley”. In total, Smiley’s broadcast career has spanned two decades. Never one to bite his tongue, in a recent interview with the Associated Press, Smiley made some pretty heavy accusations against the Obama Administration, surrounding some of his sponsors.
Smiley contends that members of the Obama administration, whom he didn’t identify, have pressured sponsors to drop their support of his projects, including his anti-poverty initiatives. The White House had no comment, said a spokesman, Kevin Lewis.
Smiley declined to identify the companies, saying he wasn’t authorized to disclose their names.
While he said he understands the desire of blacks to stand protectively by the first African-American president, he’s adamant about his right to take Obama to task on rising black unemployment, the use of military drones and other issues.
“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,” Smiley said. “They’re labeled courageous critics, but if I say it, I’m an ‘Obama critic.’ There’s race at play in the very question.”
Although some Smiley critics think he has an “anti-Obama” agenda, he quickly corrected those accusations.
“I don’t have an anti-Barack agenda,” he said, “but this is what I do: My job is to raise questions of accountability.”
Smiley also went on to point out that before Obama became President, he interviewed him more than a half-dozen times, but has not been granted an interview during the presidency. But Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and others in the administration have appeared on the PBS show.
Leshelle V. Sargent, a spokeswoman for Smiley, told Journal-isms, “After 10 years and 2,000 shows on PBS, Mr. Smiley appreciates all of his underwriters. We are uninterested in subjecting former, present or future supporters to further scrutiny.”