Jan 11, 2012

(BlackAmericaWeb) - By now, many are growing suspicious that PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley is holding a grudge against President Barack Obama. But he thinks it's just the opposite.

Monday on the Fox News Channel, he announced that he was ousted as the speaker at a Martin Luther King luncheon because he was trying to hold the president accountable.

"I don’t see my role as one of criticizing the president. I see my role as one of holding the president – this and every other president- accountable," Smiley said.

"Something is wrong with this country ... that so often the political right, and I am no defender of the political right ... gets accused of playing the game of political correctness. What this underscores is that those on the left, the Democrats can play that game of political correctness as well,” he added.

Smiley was booted from the 20th annual MLK luncheon on Jan. 16, hosted by the Peoria Civic Center. The group announced last week that Smiley had been replaced by Michael Eric Dyson as the guest speaker of the event, citing people who were "upset about comments that Tavis Smiley has made."

"What’s important to us is putting together a luncheon that celebrates the life and work of Dr. King," luncheon organizer Alma Brown said last week, according to a local report. "And it became evident over the last few days that people were upset about comments that Tavis Smiley had made, comments that we weren’t aware of unfortunately, so we made the decision to cancel his contract."

Last summer, Smiley teamed with social activist and author Cornel West to embark on a 16-city "poverty bus tour" to highlight the economic disparity in the country, especially as it affected the nation’s African-American community. Smiley said in an interview that "it would be nice to hear the president say the word 'poor' — to say the word 'poverty.'"

"But we can't get this president or any leaders to say the words 'poor' or 'poverty,' much less do anything about it," he said.

Smiley, who has maintained that Obama has not done enough for African-Americans, insisted that a number of black leaders - who he never named - initially supported his book, "The Covenant with Black America," but have now done a complete “180-degree turn” and walked away from his grassroots ideology.


  1. Michael Eric Dyson has been critical of the president too. At the same time he defends the president. it's unfortunate what has happened to Tavis. I can't say what is really in his heart towards the president or anyone for that matter. In general, I think his message has been consistent. Him teaming up with Dr. West so publicly when Dr. West made such outrageous comments about the president might have been Tavis' downfall. I can't say that Tavis Smiley nor Dr. West do not ever have anything worthwhile to say. So to replace him I do not think is completely fair. At the same time, there is a contingent of folks that are turned off by them for now. And they do not have the same appeal. it just is what is for now.

  2. I thought Tavis was not going to speak about being ousted from the luncheon and that seemed like the classy move to me. Does he have a right to be critical of the President? Absolutely!! But do the people who support this luncheon then have a right to be critical of him?? Heck Yeah!! How does he feel entitled to criticize but then think he should be exempted from criticism?? I have been unequivocal in my disdain for Ann Coulter... Should I ever be invited to speak at a luncheon honoring Jefferson Davis (stop laughing, I'm making a very serious point here) and the organizers called me and said well our organization is a great supporter of Ann and we do not feel your past criticisms of her make you an appropriate speaker for this luncheon, I would shed no tears.

  3. I know what Tavis Smiley is saying is a fact and those of you who disagree should listen to any of the speeches that Obama has made he has used the word POOR only a few times since he began his campaign. You can find it in his April 13, 2011 speech on deficit reduction, (He said "poor children," "children with autism" and "kids with disabilities" would be left "to fend for themselves.") and in his Sept. 19, 2011 speech on deficit reduction,he said,("We shouldn't balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the middle class;")You can find it on the full 60minutes interview on Dec. 11, 2011 at the 9:51 mark of the interview... follow the link. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-57341009-10391709/president-obama-the-full-60-minutes-interview/?tag=strip. You may find the word POOR sprinkled in a few other speeches, but nowhere has he made a full speech regarding POOR PEOPLE and the need to help them in anyway...If so please point it out to me...