Cornel West: MSNBC's Black Commentators 'Sold Their Souls for a Mess of Obama Pottage'
Princeton University professor Cornel West had some harsh words for MSNBC's Al Sharpton, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Michael Eric Dyson Friday.
Speaking with Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman, West said, "They have sold their souls for a mess of Obama pottage" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CORNEL WEST: And Brother Tavis is being very kind, because he’s right. I love Brother Mike Dyson, too, but we’re living in a society where everybody is up for sale. Everything is up for sale. And he and Brother Sharpton and Sister Melissa and others, they have sold their souls for a mess of Obama pottage. And we invite them back to the black prophetic tradition after Obama leaves. But at the moment, they want insider access, and they want to tell those kind of lies. They want to turn their back to poor and working people.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, he’s—Michael Eric—
CORNEL WEST: And it’s a sad thing to see them as apologists for the Obama administration in that way, given the kind of critical background that all of them have had at some point.
For those unfamiliar with the expression, a mess of pottage is a Biblical reference to Esau's sale of his birthright for a meal of lentil stew in Genesis. It's something close to worthless in exchange for something of great value.
That said, earlier in the broadcast, as previously reported by NewsBusters, West also took aim at Obama:
CORNEL WEST: Well, one, I think that it’s morally obscene and spiritually profane to spend $6 billion on an election, $2 billion on a presidential election, and not have any serious discussion—poverty, trade unions being pushed against the wall dealing with stagnating and declining wages when profits are still up and the 1 percent are doing very well, no talk about drones dropping bombs on innocent people. So we end up with such a narrow, truncated political discourse, as the major problems—ecological catastrophe, climate change, global warming. So it’s very sad. I mean, I’m glad there was not a right-wing takeover, but we end up with a Republican, a Rockefeller Republican in blackface, with Barack Obama, so that our struggle with regard to poverty intensifies.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s a pretty rough assessment of President Obama.
CORNEL WEST: Oh, that’s what we have. That’s what we have. Richard Nixon is to the left of him on healthcare. Richard Nixon is to the left of him on guaranteed income. And the same policies in terms of imperial foreign policy is at work. And so, I was glad to see that Romney didn’t win. We pushed back a right-wing takeover. We’ve got a right-wing mentality: cut, cut, cut, austerity, austerity, austerity. Where is the serious talk about investment in jobs, fighting the privatizing of education, and the empowerment of trade unions? And so, our battle is just beginning. We have yet to take off the gloves. You know, we’ve been fighting intensely.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama said to Harry Belafonte, according to Harry, "Why don’t you and Cornel West cut me some slack?" And Cornel—and Harry Belafonte responded, "What makes you think we’re not?"
CORNEL WEST: That’s exactly right.