PBS Host Tavis Smiley Goes on Tax-Funded Radio to Slam Romney's 'Callousness' on the Poor

PBS talk-show host Tavis Smiley is doing a media tour with his pal, the Marxist professor Cornel West, and no one at PBS seems to care that this underlines PBS as a hard-left media brand. Noel Sheppard noted Smiley bashing Romney on Hannity. Smiley also bashed Romney last week on the taxpayer-subsidized Pacifica Radio show Democracy Now.

Pacifica host Amy Goodman replayed the CNN interview in which Romney told Soledad O'Brien he was not interested in the very rich or the very poor. Smiley found that showed callousness and arrogance and even a demonization of the poor:

It was so hard to just intake that comment, because it shows a certain callousness, a cavalier attitude toward the poor. And we argue in this book that the poor in this country are not a priority, in part because of that kind of arrogance and the criminalization and the demonization of the poor. To just say that "I’m not concerned about the very poor," just uttering that phrase, "I am not concerned about the very poor," ought to arrest every single one of us.

Smiley cannot imagine that a dramatic increase in food-stamp recipients represents a failure of government policy. He can easily imagine that anyone who tries to restrain food-stamp spending is a cad:

[J]ust yesterday, the House Republicans in the Agriculture Committee voted, as you know, to tighten restrictions even further on food stamps. Now we already know that there’s a dramatic increase in—Mr. Gingrich’s nasty, vitriolic comment notwithstanding, calling the President the "food stamp president," we know that more Americans are applying for food stamps than ever before. Feeding America, who we work with, will tell you that more Americans are trying to find food. There is clearly a food insecurity problem, Juan, in this country. And at that very moment, here we now get this austerity conversation underway in Washington, and they start tightening the belt—not on defense, but on food stamps. There’s a problem with that. 

Smiley even claimed there 150 million Americans qualify as poor or near-poor:

SMILEY: 150 million Americans wrestling with poverty. Mitt Romney, who Juan referenced earlier, wants to call this the "politics of envy." But we think it’s about fundamental fairness, and that’s what we’re trying to talk about in the book.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, that’s an astounding figure. I just want to stop and not let it go by.
 
TAVIS SMILEY: I say the same thing.
 
AMY GOODMAN: One in two Americans?
   
TAVIS SMILEY: Exactly. One out of two of us, 150 million people, is either in or near poverty. So, you’ve got half of your democracy fighting to get out or to stay out of poverty. And what we argue in this book is that poverty threatens our democracy and that poverty is a matter of national security.

Pacifica host Juan Gonzalez whatever happened to "the audacity of hope," as Jeremiah Wright put it. Cornel West replied with praise for "our dear brother Jeremiah Wright. Jeremiah Wright comes out of a black prophetic tradition that talks about hope, not cheap American optimism."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis