Washington Post health care reporter Ceci Connolly appeared on PBS's Tavis Smiley show on Wednesday, plugging the Post's new account of the battle, titled "Landmark" -- and suggesting the media was scatter-brained, and really needed President Obama to reel the country back in:
But when it came to the proposed solutions that's where it started getting complicated, and the White House, if you especially think back, Tavis, to last summer, just about a year or so now, a year ago, June, July and into that really rough August of '09 period, that's when the White House lost control of the message.
Part of the reason that it did was they let reporters like me write endlessly about the inside-Congress -- really minutia -- tedious process kind of story, and it took President Obama coming back and reengaging in September of '09 with that joint address to Congress which was really a speech to the whole nation to kind of get it back on track a little bit.
Ardent black Obama supporters don't like PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley's argument that Obama is failing to provide enough government support for blacks "catching hell" (try Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart). On Saturday, a Post book review by Kim McLarin of the new Obama-campaign novel by Pearl Cleage takes the Smiley-hate into fiction:
She even (I think) coins a term that I hope catches on across the country: "Tavis Smiley Syndrome," which is marked by an obsessive tendency to criticize, nitpick or otherwise whine about Obama. Ida diagnoses the disorder in her mother after the latter makes a snarky comment about "the Great God Obama." "Both my parents voted for the man," Ida comments, "and in their hearts, they realize how lucky we are to have him, but it's almost like they can't admit it, even to themselves. Tavis Smiley Syndrome. Easy to recognize, impossible to argue."
PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley has often played a left-wing activist role as well, with his State of Black America conferences and books. He’s just announced a new event on March 20 in Chicago where he can continue his outrage that blacks aren’t making President Obama push an "urban agenda" for black power. Smiley even recently fought with Al Sharpton on Sharpton's radio show, insisting even Sharpton wasn’t racial enough.
The conference is titled "We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda." Tavis elevated his own role just a little. "This come-to-Jesus meeting is free," he announced.
Smiley’s conference is advertising not only Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, but the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, who just insisted "the white Right is trying to set Barack up for assassination." Smiley promised that this special guest to his "black chorale" is a man "who hasn’t been singing much of late, but who has a solo I’m told he’s ready to share." Can Reverend Wright be far behind?
Here's something you don't see every day: former Republican Congressman turned MSNBC personality Joe Scarborough and perilously liberal PBS host Tavis Smiley agreeing on something.
Maybe even more shocking, this odd couple was also in lock-step with former Bush administration member and current Fox News contributor Dan Senor as well the New Yorker's Jane Mayer.
Appearing together on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, the unlikely quartet not only felt the Obama administration is making a mistake going after the Fox News Channel, but also that it is tremendously benefiting the cable network.
Scarborough went so far to say that as a result of this strategy, "America's waking up in the morning, click, they turn on Fox News" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, relevant section at 4:30):
The bosses at PBS must not mind their taxpayer-funded network being defined as liberal in the public mind, because on Sunday’s Meet the Press, NBC matched Joe Scarborough on the right with PBS talk-show host Tavis Smiley on the left. Smiley slapped President Obama for trying to be the "collaborator in chief" instead of commander-in-chief on health care, and denounced protesters at town hall meetings as forces of "unadulterated hate."
He also warned against what Martin Luther King called "the tranquilizing drug of gradualism." The host of a nightly talk show based at Los Angeles PBS station KCET blamed Obama for being too moderate, not too radical:
SMILEY: The reason why he's in trouble right now on this bill is precisely because he's tried to be bipartisan rather than –
This interview is a little old, but worth sharing. Socialist actor Ed Asner appeared on PBS’s Tavis Smiley show on May 21 to promote his new Pixar film "Up." Asner typically kvetched about the wasteful disaster of Iraq and blundered into an odd quote when he lamented "The crime is you can convince all those Congressional people and the people through the media to piss away all that money overseas and it becomes socialism to convince them to piss away the money here at home."
He also suggested illegal Mexicans are taking some of the racist hate off black people, which Smiley protested, since he didn’t want anyone thinking we were living in "post-racial" (or post-racist) America. Asner also patted himself on the back for having the political courage to play a slave-ship captain on the 1977 ABC miniseries "Roots."
SMILEY: I only know that because I saw you in "Roots" when I was a kid. You played that villain pretty good.
ASNER: I regard that villain as, let's call him, a guy who was trying to be a good Nazi and he failed.
Time magazine is not wild about capitalism. In a "business roundtable" on the "future of capitalism," Time assembled several liberals to decry the idea: PBS host Tavis Smiley, blog founder Arianna Huffington, and soul singer John Legend all found the need for capitalism to have a large dose of government intervention.
Smiley was frankest: "I don't think that left to its own devices, capitalism moves along smoothly and everyone gets treated fairly in the process. Capitalism is like a child: if you want the child to grow up free and productive, somebody’s got to look over the shoulder of that child."
Time described its roundtable as a symposium on economic evolution: "With our economic world changing so rapidly, many writers and thinkers are looking at the roots of capitalism and how it must evolve. In the first of our series of Time 100 roundtables, we gathered a stellar cast of honorees to ponder the road ahead." None of them came to assert that economic liberty was a great value.
What should President Obama’s impending Supreme Court Justice be? A thoughtful jurist? A legal scholar with impeccable credentials? An experienced, accomplished, wise legal expert to judge whether laws are Constitutional?
Apparently, the most important thing to remember is that this justice should be a Hispanic woman.
Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” was conducting pundit interviews this morning for analysis on Justice Souter’s newly announced retirement. One such pundit was Tavis Smiley, and as a gentle segue into the subject of identity politics, Scarborough brought up Justice Clarence Thomas [emphasis mine]:
In honor of President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith decided to take an uncritical look at the President’s performance with liberal commentators Tavis Smiley of PBS and Fareed Zakaria of CNN and Newsweek. Smith asked Zakaria: "Using your book as a template, 'The Post-American World,' in which America is seen not necessarily as the center of this universe anymore, how is this President working against the template of your book?"
Zakaria explained: "If you look at that template, Obama has actually seemed to really understand it, made overtures to the world...even overtures to Iran, to Syria, engaging in the Middle East peace process, even Venezuela. This is, I think, been a great overture. The first movement of the symphony is yet to come." Smith added: "The first 100 days, perhaps, is the overture." Zakaria continued: "But I think as an overture goes, you know, no -- I don't think any president has had as much success as Obama has...this guy gets this new world, this post-American world that I talk about, and he's acting in a way that will secure America's interests."
In a very syrupy interview with Tavis Smiley Wednesday on PBS, leftist actor Sean Penn talked about his role in "Milk" and how "the criticism people get tend to be from failed actors. Like the Fox anchors who are just clearly very envious." I suspect that's a shot at Bill O'Reilly, and I would expect Bill to reply.
Smiley honored him for his embrace of humanity, and wondered if America could yet celebrate a film about gay liberation:
SMILEY: Before my three minutes is up with you - this whole show goes so fast - I want to come back to the close of our conversation by talking about the thing - respectfully, and this is just my own opinion - that I honor about you as much, maybe even more, than your acting gift, which is your embrace of humanity, and I want to know where that comes from. What is it about you that allows you to stand in your truth, to raise these issues, to not bite your tongue, to embrace humanity? Where does that come from? You've always been that way or you grew into that? Help me understand that.
Chris Matthews won't be working alone. Back in November, the Hardball host said it was his job to make Barack Obama's presidency a success. Today, another TV journalist expressed a similar sentiment. Tavis Smiley has declared that "we're all working for Barack Obama" and that "we have to help make Obama a great president." [H/t reader dronetek.]
The host of Tavis Smiley on PBS was a guest on Morning Joe. Reacting to Harry Reid's claim last week that he doesn't work for Barack Obama, Smiley said Reid should "put down the crack pipe." Smiley added "we're all working for Barack Obama." It soon became clear that was no passing quip, but a literal description of how he sees his role.
Plugging her new book The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, Arianna Huffington appeared on the PBS talk show Tavis Smiley on Tuesday night to receive smiles and affirmations from the host. Smiley told Huffington of his personal joy when the Huff-Post is quoted in tainted crown jewel of New York's Old Media:
SMILEY: Speaking of influencing the course of events, I read a number of papers, as do you, every single day before I get moving, and I always smile when I'm reading The New York Times, especially, and I see The New York Times quoting The Huffington Post and I say, "Arianna's having a good day, The New York Times is quoting her." What do you make of the fact that blogs now are the place where news is broken and that the traditional mainstream media outlets end up quoting the blogosphere?
On tour with his new book Call Me Ted, CNN founder Ted Turner unloaded more of his typical liberal nuggets on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS Tuesday. He pounded Bush’s pro-life position on the UN Population Fund: "We said we were going to pay, but the Bush administration never issued the checks. So women are dying of unsafe abortions." He still had old Cold War lessons: "I learned that the Russians, if you're nice to them - if you treat people with dignity, respect, and friendliness, they'll almost always reciprocate the same way." He trashed Fox News for backing war in Iraq and then claimed they "backed off of it."
Many people have probably forgotten how dramatically Turner has supported the cause of population control and abortion. He hasn’t changed his mind:
SMILEY: To your point now about overpopulation or the world's population, what do we do about that, if anything?
TURNER: Family planning. Have one and two-child families.
Liberal CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin appeared on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS on Wednesday night, and Smiley focused on several "hot button" issues that were largely ignored in the general election: campaign finance reform, abortion, racial preferences, and gun control. Toobin insisted that Obama’s long list of small (and unidentified) donors suggests "there’s less risk of corruption, I think." On Supreme Court picks, he said Obama will pick someone with liberal views on abortion and racial preferences, but insisted that Obama really matches Reagan appointee Sandra Day O’Connor’s views on race. On gun control, Toobin defined the struggle strangely, like he wasn't very smart about weapons: "What's the line between a handgun in D.C. and a surface-to-air missile? I think the courts are going to have to figure that out."
First, Toobin found no need for reform of the current campaign finance system, with the favorable results and all:
SMILEY: The money in this campaign, with all due respect to Barack Obama and the three-quarters of a billion dollars he raised in this campaign, do we need to get back now to a serious conversation about campaign finance reform? Because everybody can't do what Obama did.
Now that America's demonstrated it's not as hopelessly racist as many minorities (and minority journalists) assumed, should we expect more optimism from the media? Not from NBC anchor Brian Williams, who insisted to Tavis Smiley on PBS Monday night that this country suppresses discussions of race and "If Obama wins this election, if these polls hold true, I think the national conversation about race -- game on. It's underway starting Wednesday morning if this happens, and the world is different." Obama only surpassed racism because he was the "perfect candidate."
This is a weird argument, to suddenly declare "game on" for race matters, since the Obama campaign and the media left race relations and issues like racial quotas off the discussion table on most days over this long campaign.
I've always said this about race: Every day, millions of Americans get up and see this elephant in the room, and choose to put it back under the bed, close the door, go to work, come home, it's still there. We see it every day, and we suppress it. We don't talk about it. We talk about the fringe, it flares up every once in a while, but we don't talk about it.
NBC anchor Brian Williams appeared on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS on Monday night and trashed Joe the Plumber's anti-tax cause as a silly issue, not a serious question about the redistribution of wealth: "Look at how our attention was able to get pulled into pigs and lipstick and plumbers. We got a plumber who's the third member of the GOP ticket, in effect, and that's - it's all of our fault, yes, and there will be time to bloody our own backs with chains, but it's also the sorry state of our discourse as if, Tavis, we don't have enough serious issues to concentrate on." Williams added: "I think we may find out it was a movement year, we may find out we all had to step aside and just let it happen, and we may decide we went down too many rat holes of distractions on our way there."
Williams also complained once again about the delay in his Sarah Palin interview, given his network’s leading stature. "I went more than third -- I went fifth or sixth," even as he added: "I think she's a professional at her job, I try to be at mine, and we kind of quickly got over it." Sounds like he hasn’t.
Bill Moyers appeared not only on The Daily Show Tuesday, but on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS, where he repeated all his lines in defense of Jeremiah Wright. Moyers also declared that while "I believe in capitalism...the tension between capitalism and democracy is that capitalism breeds inequality while democracy aims for more equality," and the media serves only the rich. When Smiley asked if were "witnessing the fall of the American empire," Moyers said yes, and that "it's probably a good thing that our empire has reached the extent of it -- has extended itself so far that it's beginning to have to have some second thoughts about it."
The talk of America's "empire," as if America were no different than ancient Rome, came near the end of the segment:
SMILEY: How would you respond if I said to you, Bill Moyers, that we are witnessing the fall of the American empire? You are a student of history. You know that every empire eventually falls. And what if I said to you that our democracy is so dysfunctional that it is irreparable, and that what you and I are witnessing, sad to say, is the fall of the American empire?
It was a hot night of hard-left talk on PBS’s Tavis Smiley show on Thursday night, when Smiley’s guest was radical Pacifica Radio anchorwoman Amy Goodman. The host of the daily Democracy Now program was decrying how American liberties have disappeared under George W. Bush, and Smiley wasn’t asking hostile questions, but softballs: "How do you explain how this Patriot Act has, in fact, crushed so many people? Crushed people, threatened people, put people at all types of unease?" Smiley never named one.
Goodman played up how awful it was, with Big Bad Bush crushing librarians and booksellers: "It is a very big problem. It was written before 9/11; it was just passed after 9/11, and that's the big problem. I travel around the country and we support independent bookstores all over. It's not only the librarians; it's the independent booksellers who also fall under the purview of the Patriot Act. It says that they and the librarians have to hand over information."
Geraldo Rivera of Fox News appeared Thursday night on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS, and before he unloaded another bucket of invective against a "savage right-wing talk show campaign" on illegal immigration that makes school kids cry, he denounced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer as just "another horny hypocrite," comparing him to Sen. David Vitter, evangelist Ted Haggard, and Sen. Larry Craig. He said he resented "anyone who uses any kind of state resource for their own private predilections."
Does this sound like the same Geraldo Rivera who devoted his nightly CNBC talk program in 1998 to praising Bill Clinton (and trashing "investigative terrorist" Ken Starr) and insisting he stand tall against....charges he used state resources (young staffers) for his own private predilections inside a state building? From the transcript on the Tavis Smiley website, here’s how Geraldo began remembering Eliot Spitzer:
I interviewed him on our old CNBC show many times, and on Fox, and in fact we just dug out the last interview I did with him and he talked about morality, that's the problem, Tavis. It's another horny hypocrite.
Leftist actress Susan Sarandon was a big backer of John Edwards, but now she's going to shift and endorse Barack Obama. On Monday's edition of the Tavis Smiley show on PBS, she likened Obama to a pregnant woman at an abortion rally:
Well, I'm going to back Obama. But I hope -- I think that he, as a symbol, has really excited people, and he's definitely confusing to everyone who really hates America for hating Muslims because a name like Obama and a black man, they're probably going to go "Oh, wait a minute -- What?" It's kind of like when you're out on the line for freedom to have an abortion and you're incredibly pregnant. They just can't quite figure it out.
So I think he definitely has convinced people that he stands for change and for hope, and I can't wait to see what he stands for.
Author and CNN commentator Carl Bernstein was interviewed on the Wednesday night edition of the Tavis Smiley show on PBS, and warned that the Clinton campaign has devolved into "the kind of campaign that we’re used to seeing against Republican right-wing opponents who the Clintons have identified over the years as their enemies. That is very much a take-no-prisoners scorched earth campaign, and I think that there are reasons to think that is causing a fissure within the Democratic Party that might be very damaging in the long run."He also suggested the former president was at his "most petulant" and "most disingenuous" in his attacks on Barack Obama.
UPDATE: I originally misread this as an attack on scorched-earth right-wing campaigns against Clinton, instead of Clinton's usual scorched-earth campaigns against right-wing opponents. I made Bernstein out to be more anti-conservative and so less troubled by intra-party division, and suggested he was ignoring history, when he was not. Smiley responded:
In the free-for-all that followed Tavis Smiley’s hostile GOP presidential debate in August, Michael Fauntroy was featured by Smiley’s show and several other liberal media outlets as an instant pundit on the subject, author of the book plainly titled Republicans and the Black Vote. But Sunday night on the Huffington Post, Fauntroy slammed a not-so-new documentary on blacks and the GOP as pathetic propaganda:
In arguing that the Dems were racist and that the GOP has been miscast by the liberal media as the enemy of Black people, Emancipation, Revelation, and Revolution completely overlooks the role of ideology in policymaking. Conservatives have long opposed Black progress. Conservatives opposed Reconstruction and civil rights. Conservatives pushed the "Lily-White" movement that purged Blacks from leadership of state Republican parties throughout the South. Conservatives have pushed for the maintenance of a racial status quo that held down Blacks and then blamed them for the lots in life.
Former NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw took the publicity tour on his book on the 1960's to PBS’s Tavis Smiley show, where he discussed how he was "in a rage" when a friend of his died in Vietnam, although he initially believed in it when John F. Kennedy insisted in a domino theory in southeast Asia, a premise that "quickly came apart." Brokaw agreed with Smiley that there were many parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, and also agreed that Martin Luther King is the most important figure in American history. But he also agreed when Smiley insisted no one has ever been able to detect a bias in his reporting and anchoring: "I've been comforted over the years that people on the far left and people on the far right have said to me, ‘What party are you in, anyway?’ I have never been able to figure it out."
For those who have any doubt that Brokaw fit the mold of the liberal media elite, see MRC’s Media Reality Check on twenty years of Tom Brokaw tilt. Here’s the exchange from PBS:
SMILEY: As I sit and listen to you talk, Tom, now about all of these issues that you've covered in your career and lived through in your life, I always thought that as a newsman, you, Tom Brokaw, kept your feelings, kept your politics out of what you -- I know on paper you have to do that or you don't have a job. [!]
The book tour continues for CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and his Clarence Thomas-bashing, Barack Obama-boosting routine. Last Friday, Toobin made his tour of nearly every NPR and PBS interview show complete with an appearance on Tavis Smiley, where he reprised his take on Thomas as bitter, isolated, and ultraconservative. (Thomas was isolated because he was interviewed by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham on his book tour. It also makes him a "highly partisan figure.") Smiley complained that in the Thomas interview on 60 Minutes, CBS’s Steve Kroft "basically rolls over the guy," and asked Toobin if it’s time to consider an end to lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court.
The two liberals also had a cozy chat reconsidering how conservative justices were overtly partisan in the way they decided Bush vs. Gore in 2000, which Smiley found to be an "extreme" where the Court was "out-and-out too political."
We have a new Special Report posted on the main MRC Web site on the ideological sandbox we call PBS. In previous years with Democratic control of Congress, PBS has played a more activist role within the media, dragging the rest of the national media further to the left and spurring more aggression and ill will against conservative and Republican leaders. Just as 2007 has been a year for a "surge" of troops in Iraq, it's also been a year of "surging" activism within PBS.
At the same time, Democratic congressional leaders now in the majority have been entertaining the idea of reviving a federal "Fairness Doctrine" which would require private broadcasters to comply with notions of balancing out each station's daily schedule of news, talk, and public-affairs programming. These same Democrats have been highly offended at the idea that anyone outside or inside taxpayer-funded broadcasting would monitor PBS content for fairness or balance.
The Bush administration has "finally been caught in their criminality," MSNBC host and former Speaker Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.) aide Chris Matthews seethed at the 10th anniversary party for his "Hardball" program, the Washington Examiner is reporting.
They're strong and loaded words, of course, but only the latest example of Matthews history of political bias against conservatives and the GOP. Yet coming as it does so close to the October 9 Republican presidential debate that Matthews will host, RedState's Erick Erickson is urging Republican candidates to call Matthews on the carpet for his bias.:
You know, I will be gravely disappointed if the GOP candidates do not make an issue of this at the debate.
If the GOP candidates are too chicken to take on Chris Matthews before a live television audience on Matthew's gross bias, they will have disgraced us all.
Tavis Smiley Publicist Promotes Justice Clarence Thomas Book Discussion with Character Bashing E-Mail
I received an e-mail this week from Brian Steffen who is the online publicist for Tavis Smiley. The e-mail was a promotion for a PBS airing of a panel discussion on "My Grandfather's Son," the new book by Justice Clarence Thomas. The e-mail consisted of an advance set of excerpts that were designed to entice me to watch the program. The only problem was that every excerpt in the e-mail took a pot shot at Justice Thomas by attacking his character, without substance of course, very much in line with most of the criticisms that Thomas has had to endure mainly because he is a black conservative.
But there is more going on here than the criticism of Justice Thomas as it appears in an unsolicited e-mail. The context of the comments reveal the true biases of liberal educators, certain representatives of black activist organizations and that of the media darlings that put these people on a pedestal. You will soon see that their bias feeds into the notion that the Supreme Court should be used as a tool to create policy and subvert the role of the other two branches of government that most readily represents the people. The bias also allows the panel guests to extend the cry for equal time under fairness doctrine like standards; a cry that is increasingly being used as a weapon to try and silence the free speech rights of conservatives in talk radio, on TV and the internet.
Last Thursday, on her new show "Tell Me More," NPR talk show Michel Martin held another one of those non-debates on whether the Republican front-runners should have submitted to the debate organized by leftist PBS host Tavis Smiley. She invited both former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and former Gingrich pollster Frank Luntz to come on and denounce the GOP no-shows for political stupidity and moral cowardice. Luntz insisted "Tavis Smiley is an incredible host, and he is completely fair." But while Martin pointed out that Smiley had prevailed on Steele to help cajole Republicans to attend for several months, she failed to tell listeners that Luntz was hired by Smiley to do polls after the PBS Democratic candidates debate in June. This is not a little-known fact. Liberal Democrat groups like Media Matters had a fit that Smiley hired a Republican pollster for a Democratic debate, and (unsuccessfully) demanded PBS fix it.
In refusing to interview anyone who felt that PBS and Tavis "George Bush is a serial killer" Smiley were offering a hostile forum for Republicans, Martin merely said the RNC failed to send a spokesman – as if there aren’t many conservatives outside the RNC building on Capitol Hill who would accept that opportunity. That's a lazy way to avoid having a contentious debate, instead of a double-beating.
On Friday morning’s Today, NBC put the thumb-screws on the Republican PBS debate no-shows in a segment with NBC’s Tim Russert and an outraged PBS host Tavis Smiley, who in his outrage over being snubbed, equated himself with history, that skipping his debate was a "watershed moment" in American history. Russert piled on with the same liberal media spin, quoting all the Republicans who said the no-shows were making a huge mistake, that attending was "good politics" – and no Republican holding a contrary opinion.
NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News both brought out their Republicans-might-be-racists handbook and took advantage of PBS’s and Tavis Smiley’s decision to hold a Republican debate on black issues on the last week of the third-quarter fundraising crunch. Instead of trying to negotiate a better time, Smiley and PBS painted Republicans as making a huge and possibly racist mistake. Both networks loaded up on soundbites trashing the GOP frontunners for snubbing minorities and creating an "image problem" for themselves and their party.
On Thursday’s Nightly News, hours before the Smiley debate took place, NBC was already casting the debate’s losers as the no-shows. MRC’s Brad Wilmouth compiled the transcript: