Tavis Smiley Blames Obama Admin for Losing Sponsorships

by Yesha Callahan


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.

From the Associated Press:

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.”

  • Marie

    Typical American negro who believes that the president by virtue of his skin colour owes him something.

  • Anthony

    If Tavis Smiley has evidence for his charges, he needs to roll it out because it seems to be scandal season in Washington.

  • IJusWannaSay…

    Have a whole row of seats, Tavy…

  • leelah

    I now agree with Tavis. I think the Obama Admin has tried to play it safe and because of that they haven’t done enough. On all liberal issues, except health care, their actions have been reactionary and they never took the lead. And on black issues they’re horrible. Instead of increasing welfare, I would’ve liked them to lead on street violence and education. I thought Michelle Obama should’ve made one of those two her platform but instead she chose the most uncontroversial, PR friendly campaign known to man. As soon as I saw her during aerobics and gardening, I knew this president’s need to fit in was going to lead to him doing a whole bunch of nothing. Now the republicans have cut off his legs and he can’t get anything done.

  • Anthony

    I don’t think Smiley’s complaint about not being unable to interview Obama is unreasonable. If the President can allow himself to be disrespected by interviewers on Fox, he can take some tough questions from a black journalist. Once again, I get the feeling that Obama doesn’t respect black folks, he just wants us to show up and vote for him.

  • Anthony

    Exactly. Remember The First Lady’s other big initiative has been to help military families. That is a worthy goal, but it was incredibly safe and risk- averse.

  • Deal-n-Truth

    “Dang, is he still on this?”
    Tavis lost his sponsor’s simply because there are people who saw him for what he actually is. His poverty initiatives haven’t erased poverty since he has been supposedly doing them, but they did enrich his own pockets. Face it Tavis, there are a lot of us who think for ourselves, don’t look to you as a leader and can not be duped because of your victim laced rhetoric.

  • Deal-n-Truth

    You did have a choice not to vote for him.

  • Anthony

    Deal-n-Truth, for what it is worth, I voted for Obama because I feel he is better than any other alternative, not because he follows all of the policies I would prefer.

    As someone who has supported him, I feel entitled to voice my displeasure with some of the things he has done, especially concerning the black community.

  • meme23

    I actually agree with Tavis Smiley’s criticism of Obama, however he is starting to look like crazy. It’s time to rethink your plan Tavis.

  • Anthony

    True, that’s why I say he needs to show evidence if he has it.

  • leelah

    Imagine the impact she could’ve had if she would’ve taken up the issues that affect urban children. She could’ve became mommy-in-chief for just washington dc’s children, or better yet chicago’s children.

  • Ash

    I don’t honestly think Obama is even bothered with Tavis Smiley. This conspiracy theory seems so far fetched. Holding President Obama accountable is fine but the manner in which he has done it annoys me as much as the commentary at Fox News annoys me.

  • The Artist

    Although I’m totally for President Obama, one can’t help but wonder is he really doing all that he can for the Black community. And by wondering, am I expecting too much or am I developing assertions based on the fact that we share the same skin color?

    I think the President walks the line between the two communities, placing more emphasis on politics and strategy (or where he can gain the greatest benefit politically ). Honestly, though, I think we let him side into the second term too smoothly. At the end of the day it’s still a politician; one we must keep voicing our concerns to even it means denying a vote. So I agree with Tavis on some issues, but he comes off as a bit of a loon (almost as if his message has other self-absorbed aspirations that didn’t quote pan out and he’s in for the final duo because all else failed).

  • Missi

    Tavis has always been an angry black man for some reason. He needs to check himself in at a mental facility for a long while.

  • LemonNLime

    I know many will be quick to blame this on jealously or conspiracy theories but in the last couple of weeks, the Obama administration has been called out for raiding the phone records (personal, home, and cell) of AP reporters and now they’ve been called out for going after a Fox News correspondent.

    Like other administrations, the Obama administration doesn’t like criticism. So what do they do? Try to silence it, just like they did to that woman who called Obama out on his drone policies during his recent speech. And I think that is saying something in a country where most of our “news” is a joke to begin with. When are people going to learn that he is no different from any other politician? He just so happens to be a bit tanner than those who came before him.

  • Sitdown

    I can’t take this coon. First he throws Obama under the bus and now he thinks Obama – busy with catching terrorists – is busy thinking of ways to sabotage a dumb show on PBS. Really Travis? Gos sit somewhere you hypocrite. You are just sad that your brand of old school race baiting does not work and Obama was elected TWICE without support from baiters like you. Take a seat. Maybe you lost sponsors because you suck.

  • Attentionseeker

    Rght because in the midst of catching Al Qaeda terrorists and dealing with a financial crisis and a divided Congress, Obama took the time to sabotage a Public Television Dlist Talk show host. Sit down all the way in the back Travis.

  • hollabacknow

    I NEVER thought that Tavis was jealous of Obama. I think that Tavis, like some of us, knew that Obama was going to neglect the interests of the black voting block and that we were not going to hold him accountable.

    I agree with you.

  • Pat

    Well, Tavis has already passed looking and acting crazy. Not because of holding POTUS accountable. By most – even the black community – this gesture is respected as well as expected.

    I think the problem with Tavis was his method. The ways in which Tavis conduct his problems with the Obamas are handled within a “catty” way. From the very beginning, when Mr. Obama chose not to speak at the “State of the Black Union”, it appeared as if Tavis was attempting to discredit him then. It seemed to me, it would have been more plausible to have a private discussion. It was a critical campaign and this public criticizing looked like an attempt to cause division and indecision b/c it was (prior to) POTUS proving himself. So, Tavis lost respect from the public (blk community); thus losing additional support over the years as he continued to criticize POTUS.

    This accountability of the POTUS to me is more similar to dislike. Not so much as indifferences. And as it continues, it sounds more like whining. I didn’t receive an invite, he won’t interview with me since he became president, the OA is making me lose sponsors, etc… Now Tavis is not providing any concrete information of this latest complaint. Hmmm…has Tavis stopped and thought just maybe POTUS has lost respect for you? And the problem he has is not accountability.

    I think it is best to state your opinion of the problem, not your personal dislikes. Then, it does become personal. And once people start hearing you complain about the negative more so than communicating the positive aspects, it’s natural to stop supporting them.

    The bottom line is — Tavis has mainly lost sponsor/supports by his own account.

  • Debratante

    This might be an unpopular comment in this forum, but I’ve just go to say that Tavis Smiley has some nerve demanding what he says is accountability with his one-sided B.S. Tavis is the reason I stopped listening to the Tom Joyner Show (which, truth be told, I didn’t miss listening to one bit).

    Tavis was always preaching — and, I’m paraphrasing — “Go vote Democrat, us Black folks don’t have no business voting for Republicans.” I always thought, why not just say, “Go vote” and leave out the partisan B.S.. Now, by saying this, I’m not suggesting that the Republican party is all that, because it’s not. But, the Democratic party isn’t perfect either.

    Tavis was so hellbent on trying to convince Black folks to vote how HE wants us to vote and not to take the time to consider the issues and exercise our own independent judgment to come to our own conclusions.

    Then, Tavis’ hook-up with Cornel West made me lose respect for a scholar [West] who I really liked years ago. And … don’t get me started on West and his dirty-laundry hypocrisy because that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.

    Please, Tavis, for once, listen to the stuff that comes out of your mouth and promise us you will quit spewing your insane, superfluous nonsense. President Obama’s got a WHOLE lot of other things to do than to worry about Tavis’ sob “I-ain’t-got-no-sponsors” story.

    To borrow from another poster on this thread, “Tavis, go sit down somewhere … all the way in the back, brother.”

  • Debratante

    I sincerely hope the reference to “Typical American negro,” is written by a black person in the U.S. who chooses to use the British spelling of “colour,” and not a Brit who is attempting to make a snide comment about what he/she thinks is “typical” in the U.S.

  • donnadara

    I can’t hear anything that Smiley says because while he is so concerned about the President’s accountability, where is his accountability? Did his poverty tour help any poor people? Why did he give R. Kelly a publishing contract when Smiley said on the Tom Joyner show that he saw the tape and it was R. Kelly? I’ve watched Smiley complain when the President used the MLK Bible for his inauguration. If the King family was ok with it, why aren’t you? I think he and Dr. West are angry about feeling snubbed during the President’s first campaign. All I see is sour grapes.

  • donnadara

    FYI, black people make up a disproportionate amount of military families. And food deserts affect urban children.

  • donnadara

    The President has been interviewed by black journalists, just not Tavis Smiley.

  • http://gravatar.com/missinformation7 Ms. Information

    Black people have a cult mentality. Because of this mentality, when someone in the group is doing wrong, we defend them..i.e. O.J. Simpson…even when that individual is not supporting the group as a whole. Obama has shown that he supports immigration, gay marraige, corporate support….black people still have the highest unemployment rate, highest obesity, we are the least insured, the poorest people in this nation. Obama is a black face for a capitalist agenda.

  • jay cee

    O.J. did not kill those people. I wish people would stop using him as some sort of example.

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