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Tavis Smiley, a persistent critic of President Barack Obama, now claims that the White House is quietly and systematically wrecking his initiatives by pressuring  corporate sponsors to drop their support for Smiley’s projects.

Smiley told the Associated Press that members of the Obama administration, whom he didn’t identify, have successfully convinced sponsors to stop funding Smiley’s ventures, including his anti-poverty initiatives.

“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 told the AP. “They’re labeled courageous critics, but if I say it, I’m an ‘Obama critic.’ There’s race at play in the very question.”

Smiley, who is celebrating his 10th year on the air with PBS television, has also been traveling across the country on his so-called anti-poverty tour where he often criticizes Obama for not talking enough about poverty in America.

“I don’t have an anti-Barack agenda,” Smiley said, “but this is what I do: My job is to raise questions of accountability.”

But Tom Joyner, host of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” said Tuesday that he doesn’t believe the Obama administration is strong-arming Smiley’s sponsors, adding that Smiley’s ratings are low and advertisers are jumping ship.

“Tavis, here’s the problem: Your sponsors are pulling out because you don’t have numbers,” Joyner told his listeners on Tuesday’s show. “That’s your problem. You don’t have a platform. You’re losing affiliates; you’re losing sponsors; not because someone is plotting against you.”

The White House had no comment about Smiley’s allegations, but Smiley’s claims seem especially shaky since he refuses to name the Obama administration officials who he claims are pressuring his sponsors.

So is the White House really overly concerned about Smiley’s criticism of the president? Do unnamed administration officials really spend their waking hours trying to silence Smiley by calling Smiley’s sponsors and threatening them? Does Smiley’s opinion of Obama trump the White House’s concern about putting more Americans back to work, helping to rebuild Moore, Oklahoma after a deadly tornado, and protecting citizens from terrorists?

Or does Smiley, as usual, have an inflated sense of his own self-value and a skewed view of his influence over the White House?

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.

And, truth be told, some radio executives aren’t listening to Smiley anymore either.

Last year, several public radio stations including Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Boston, cancelled Smiley’s radio show, “Smiley and West,” a radio program which also featured Princeton University Professor Cornel West.

“The show had developed much more of an ‘advocacy’ identity, which is inconsistent with our approach on WBEZ,” said a spokesman for the Chicago station WBEZ. “The goal is to present public affairs content that is reasonably balanced. We feel that Smiley & West had become a departure from this approach.”

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.

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105 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Tom Joyner’s Opinion on Tavis Smiley’s White House Accusations

  1. Annette clarke on said:

    I was just watching channel 7 and I was very surprise to see how this black was talking about the president. I decide to research who he is because I can’t believe a black man is opposing another black man like himself. I think he is one of our bad mine black man who doesn’t like another black man become successful. Travis Smiley you need prayer.

  2. Seriously, wonderful weblog structure! How long were you running a blog intended for? you are making blogging and site-building look simple. An entire glimpse within your web site is fantastic, let alone necessary .!

  3. Dr. Audrey Morrissette on said:

    Tavis I love you and believe you are a talented journalist and entrepreneur…you are bigger than this laser beam focus on President Obama…you have a right to critique criticize and challenge him…but keep promoting the important issues, instead of resentment for the President.

  4. The explanation given by WBEZ was so lame that it required: crutches, a walker, a wheelchair and a telethon to prop it up. The “handlers” within the Obama administration make the ultimate call as to what their “man” will and will not do.

  5. Chester Todd Jr. on said:

    As all ways there are those Blacks that kickanother when he/she are doing a good thing and they can’t get the credit. Tavis, come on brother wake up and be a man!!

  6. Carl on said:

    I’d like to know how many times Tavis returned to his native Mississippi to confront the injustices against black people that are historic in that state and which continue to this day… I’m guessing NONE… He’s Hollywood and as such he’s more concerned with what his hair looks like, or that his nails are manicured than he could or would ever be concerned about black people in this country.. Talk about a wolf in sheeps clothing… He could have easily played the role that Samuel Jackson played in Django. He’s been playing it all his life, only he thinks that nobody can see through his fake phone a##,,,

  7. Carl on said:

    Are people still paying attention to this Uncle Thomas (tavis smiley). Hasn’t anyone else figured out that his platform is paid for by the enemies of President Obama ? This piece of crap is a country boy from Mississippi and knows better than Obama, exactly what Obama was talking about. But he better not say nothing in support of Obama, or he won’t have a job. He’s nothing. I have never liked him and always saw him as one of those aspiring black leaders who perpetuated divisions in our communities instead of promoting anything positive. and it’s for that reason that he will never be considered anything other than an opportunistic snake oil salesman by the overwhelming majority of black america… Screw Tavis Smiley…

  8. Je m’appelle Zara.
    Je suis une jeune femme de vingt-sept piges !
    Mon boulot: auxiliaire de vie sociale … Je suis plutôt d’un caractère enjoué.

  9. Alex C on said:

    Smiley has intelligent and legitimate points to make, often, HOWEVER, his ego gets in the way. He is not a kind person to “subordinates,” and consistently has a way of alienating those he works for, and even folk that are originally “on his side.” On many levels as a communicator, or media person, he “doesn’t get it,” as to how to keep a platform in order to be heard

  10. Samore on said:

    Tavis Smiley has the right to criticize the President but at what cost.
    The right wing republicans trying to equal the IRS mess to Watergate.
    What bother me is the Tavis comment about the Prez ,it could make Obama
    look like a Nixon clone.

  11. Does it really make sense to anybody that Tavis and the Republican Party would want to keep a scandal involving President Obama pressuring corporations to undermine Tavis Smiley secret? And if he did, why wouldn’t the corporations authorize Tavis to disclose that they’re being pressured? Everybody already know who sponsors Tavis, so if the lie was true, and he made the allegation public, the administration would know who told him.

    And here’s another thing, if Tavis’ allegations are true, why couldn’t the corporations whisper it to Darrell Issa and his House Oversight Committee? Issa is ALWAYS on the lookout for some dirt on Obama – and he has subpoena power, so he could MAKE people talk. He’d be able to turn something like that into Obamagate, and thereafter, the corporations would have absolutely no need to fear reprisal – even if they did fear Obama, witch they don’t. The gun industry sure doesn’t fear him.

    So it just doesn’t make sense that Tavis, Wal-Mart, ALEC, and the Republican Party would all of a sudden want to keep a perfectly good scandal involving Obama on the down-low, now does it? No – really, does that make a bit of sense to anybody!!!? Let’s be real. All of the evidence suggests that Tavis is telling a damn lie.

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