Lack of Expanded Background Checks Makes Tavis Smiley Want to ‘Throw Up’

This week, the Senate voted down the proposed Manchin-Toomey gun control bill that would have expanded background checks for potential gun buyers. Somewhere in Los Angeles, Tavis Smiley is cleaning up the mess he made.

On his PBS talk show two days before the Senate vote, Smiley was grilling socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) about the likelihood that gun control legislation would pass. Sanders told Smiley, “I think we stand a reasonable chance to at least pass legislation greatly expanding background checks.”


 But Smiley was not satisfied with a “reasonable chance” of passage. Incredulous, he replied, “You're telling me on April 15, 2013, a few months after Newtown, it is possible, it is conceivable that this year might end without an assault weapons ban and without legislation that guarantees background checks?”

Sanders confirmed, to Smiley’s horror, that there would definitely be no assault weapons ban. He added: “As to whether or not we expand background checks, not sure. But I wouldn’t be shocked if that happens, that we don’t do that.”
 

The news that the Senate might not pass any gun legislation sickened Smiley. “That makes me want to throw up,” Smiley dead-panned, quickly adding, “But I can’t do that on national television, so I’ll keep it in until I get off camera in three minutes here.” 

Considering that this episode aired at midnight on PBS, I’m not sure Tavis had much to worry about: not many people would have seen him toss his cookies on his taxpayer-subsidized set. But if the mere idea that expanded background checks might not pass the Senate was enough to make Smiley throw up, how is he feeling now that the Senate has in fact voted down the measure? I’m guessing the janitors at his television studio had some extra work to do on Wednesday.

Expanded background checks, as well as the assault weapons ban, have been defeated, at least for the moment. Plenty of gun owners around America are rejoicing today, while many gun control advocates are wailing. And Tavis Smiley is chugging the Pepto-Bismol.

Below is a transcript of the segment:

TAVIS SMILEY: So now that the Senate has at least taken this vote to advance debate on background checks, your sense of where this debate is going to go in the coming weeks?

BERNIE SANDERS: I think we stand a reasonable chance to at least pass legislation greatly expanding background checks.

SMILEY: You're telling me on April 15, 2013, a few months after Newtown, it is possible, it is conceivable that this year might end without an assault weapons ban and without legislation that guarantees background checks?

SANDERS: It will certainly end without a ban on assault weapons, that’s for sure. As to whether or not we expand background checks, not sure. But I wouldn’t be shocked if that happens, that we don’t do that.

SMILEY: That makes me want to throw up, but I can’t do that on national television, so I’ll keep it in until I get off camera in three minutes here.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.