After radical Princeton professor Cornel West savagely attacked President Obama as a Wall Street mascot and puppet, it would hardly be surprising that PBS talk-show host Tavis Smiley would provide him a forum on Wednesday night to repeat his analysis – after all, Smiley and West host a public-radio show together. But it’s still amazing that he doesn’t see his insults as very insulting:
SMILEY: Did he have to be called a Black mascot and a Black puppet? There are those who suggested that you were petty, for a man who talks as much about love as you do, that you were petty for using terminology like "mascot" and "puppet."
WEST: Well, one, I am the kind of Christian, I love mascots. I love puppets, too.
PBS's Tavis Smiley offered his own half-baked assumptions Friday on the 2012 GOP presidential contenders. The far-left anchor dismissed the GOP field as a bunch of nobodies on the 9 a.m. EDT hour of CNN Newsroom.
"You can't beat somebody with nobody," he quipped when asked what GOP contender poses the biggest threat to President Obama's re-election. "I don't see somebody yet that the president should be all that concerned about, at least to the point of losing sleep."
Smiley also hit Obama for not doing more to help unemployed African-Americans. He assumed the reason Obama is hesitant to do so is his fear of accusations of being "tribal."
A PBS viewer might be surprised that Tavis Smiley might recognize the killing of Osama bin Laden as a newsworthy event, since he believes Christians kill people in bombings every day in America. But on the day after the Osama mission succeeded, Smiley went straight to the radical left for the official PBS reaction. There's your tax dollars at work again, providing a megaphone for The Nation magazine and Pacifica Radio in the person of Jeremy Scahill, who brought the usual radical buzzkill. He described his mood as somber over the "idiotic" cheering that signals American "blood lust."
SMILEY: Does that mean that you had your stomach turned by all the cheering and jubilation outside the White House?
SCAHILL: Well, I think that quite frankly it’s idiotic to treat these kinds of international events like sporting events, like it’s the World Cup that we’re cheering for here. I think in a way it really is insulting to those who’ve lost loved ones in these wars and who lost loved ones on 9/11, to trivialize it by jumping up and down like that.
Tavis Smiley on Tuesday said the upcoming presidential race is "going to be the ugliest, the nastiest, the most divisive, and the most racist in the history of this republic."
When MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell asked his guest on "The Last Word" why he thought so, the PBS host predictably blamed it all on the Tea Party and Donald Trump (video follows with transcript and commentary):
NBC's Today show actually gave Tavis Smiley an opportunity to criticize the President, but it was from the left, as the PBS commentator claimed that Barack Obama has devoted "too much attention to the rich and the lucky."
Invited on Monday's show to promote his new book Fail Up: 20 Lessons On Building Success From Failure, Smiley was prompted by NBC's Ann Curry about what he thought was Obama's "greatest failure has been so far?" To which Smiley responded by listing a litany of liberal grievances against this president , as seen in the following exchange:
As part of the political panel on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, PBS host Tavis Smiley decried the recent budget deal in Congress to fund the government through the rest of 2011: "I believe that budgets are moral documents....And I'm not so sure that this is not anything more than an immoral document where the poor are concerned."
Smiley went on to lament how the budget negotiations "effectively locked out the American people, namely, the poor." He further ranted: "I don't understand why it is in this town that every debate about money always begins and ends with how we can further reward the rich and more punish the poor. I don't get that."
It’s not surprising that PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley would replay an old interview upon the death of Warren Christopher, Secretary of State in Bill Clinton's first term and chief hostage negotiator/Deputy Secretary of State to Jimmy Carter. On Monday night’s show, Smiley closed by quoting Clinton in tribute: “Warren Christopher had the lowest ratio of ego to accomplishment of any public servant I have ever worked with.”
Conservatives would quibble about how much Carter aides can boast about their management of the Iranian hostage crisis. But if Christopher had a small ego, the Smiley interview (rebroadcast from 2006) was a model of how blatantly a host can try to expand it through aerobic flattery. (Try the line “I’m going to consider myself one of your children.”) If PBS wonders why they’re branded as DNC-TV, take a look. Smiley began to bowing to Christopher’s very “dapper” fashion sense:
Tavis Smiley is a hard-left talk show host on PBS. (He should admit that, since he authored a book called Hard Left.) You might remember him as the man that proclaimed that Christians "blow up people every day" in America. On his Facebook page today, Smiley promotes an interview he gave to one Myron Mays, where he talks about how he does "the Lord's work" on PBS:
PBS is a network that is watched by movers and shakers and by people who run the country, power players and other influencers. It's a great platform for us to try to empower them and try to enlighten them and quite frankly try to expand their inventory of ideas. It's a great platform to try to get them to reexamine the assumptions they hold. I think we're doing the Lord's work.
When Smiley talks of America's movers and shakers needing to "expand their inventory of ideas," he means expand it leftward. Smiley has gained a reputation as a "nitpicker" against Obama for not spending enough on African-American needs. He told Mays:
Bill Maher and Tavis Smiley got into a heated debate Friday about the difference between the treatment of women in America versus in Muslim countries.
When Smiley continually asserted on HBO's "Real Time" that women are maltreated here, Maher said, "It's such bulls--t," and eventually ended the discussion by scolding the PBS host, "When you tolerate intolerance, you’re not really being a liberal” (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
The liberal press likes to scold what it sees as lapses in civil rhetoric, usually from conservatives who fail to properly respect the icons of the Left. But as documented by the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2010, the media elite itself lurched into some pretty uncivil rhetoric this year — especially when the targets were Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party and other conservatives.
On Monday’s Tavis Smiley show on PBS, during a discussion with author Robert Putnam to discuss his book American Grace, after Putnam recounted the central thesis that various religions in America - and even non-religious people - tend to tolerate each other well compared to other countries, host Smiley made known his view that tolerance is "decreasing" in America and cited attitudes toward Muslims as a recent example. Smiley:
I'm not so sure that our religiosity these days makes us as tolerant as we think we are. Witness, you know, any number of examples of late - namely, Muslims come to mind - about how our tolerance is, it seems to me, decreasing, not increasing.
Moments later, the PBS host brought up the negative views of America held by some as being a nation that is "arrogant," "elitist," "pompous," and "nationalistic." As he analyzed the book’s title by defining the word "grace" as being "unmerited favor," Smiley continued:
And if American grace is then an unmerited favor, I’m trying to juxtapose that grace with what some see as our increasing arrogance, our increasing elitism, how it is that we could be the beneficiaries of this unmerited favor, this grace, and yet, around the world, we don’t appear to be graceful to so many other people. They see us as arrogant, elitist pompous, and not even just patriotic, but increasingly nationalistic.
Time's Joe Klein, ABC's Christiane Amanpour, and CBS's Lesley Stahl were just three journalists to see an outrageously biased quote of theirs land in the Best of Notable Quotables 2010.
A panel of 46 radio talk show hosts, magazine editors, columnists, editorial writers, and expert media observers chose the winners, and our news analysts introduce them and a few others in this highlight lowlight reel put together by Media Research Center video producer Bob Parks:
PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley guest-hosted on CNN's Larry King Live on Tuesday night, and perhaps unsurprisingly, encouraged the view that there's racism in the congressional ethics investigations of Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters. "Facts are facts. The names that keep coming out happen to be members of the Congressional Black Caucus."
Smiley never seemed to consider whether the charges had merit -- on the content of these politicians' character -- only on the color of their skin. He asked actress Aisha Tyler about this alleged outbreak of racism in the Democrat-dominated Congress, and Tyler unleashed an attack on Rush Limbaugh for suggesting the media thinks Michelle Obama's entitled to a lavish vacation in Spain because of America's sordid racial past:
Apparently, Tavis Smiley of PBS knows what's best for Gulf residents, even if it would mean widespread unemployment.
Smiley hosted a Wednesday night interview with Rep. Henry Waxman (D) on his show, where the liberal Californian admitted that while alternative energy sources need to be explored and developed, America still needs to drill for oil, albeit safely.
But Smiley wondered aloud how American can move beyond politics and transcend its oil-dependent energy policy. He thought Obama's Oval Office speech was one that "most people, left and right, seem not to like."
"How do you move beyond the politics to make that happen?" Smiley then asked Waxman, even though, as he himself claimed, most of the country was not enamored with Obama's words.
Smiley also brought up the Gulf residents' clamors to keep oil drilling alive there. "I say this respectfully, because I understand how their economy works down there," he said, before asking why Gulf residents are hesitant to "move beyond oil drilling."
PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler on Tueday addressed Tavis Smiley's claim that Christian terrorists commit far more violence than Muslim ones. Smiley also issued a statement that defended his comments, though it misrepresented what those comments actually were.
"I don't think he made his case, or even came close," Getler said. He rightfully noted that the 2000 Columbine massacre, Smiley's only example of supposed Christian terrorism, "had nothing to do with Christianity." In fact, as Brent Bozell noted in his column today, the shooters even "mocked students who cried out for God to save them."
Though Getler should be applauded for noting Smiley's total failure to offer a convincing argument, he seems to suggest that a convincing case could be made, but simply wasn't in this instance. "One would think," Getler states, "that Smiley would have been better prepared to make what was certain to be a controversial case."
PBS station managers made a big push last year to drive any trace of “sectarian” Christianity out of the taxpayer-funded broadcasting system, banning any church services or religious lectures that appeared on a handful of stations. They ultimately compromised and banned any new church programming. But on at least one program, PBS sounds like it’s declaring war on Christianity, including smears on Christianity that are not based on reality.
If that sounds shocking, imagine what the average Christian PBS viewer might have thought as he watched Tavis Smiley’s weeknight talk show on May 25. The guest was ex-Muslim and atheist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, there to promote her latest book, “Nomad.” Smiley claims to be a Christian, but he attacked Ms. Ali for “idealizing Christianity” and recklessly turning people away from Islam.
Right out of the box, Smiley was out to make a point. “You say unapologetically and rather frankly that your mission here is to inform the West about the danger of Islam,” he began. “What danger do we need to be made aware of?”
Tavis Smiley has apparently been asleep for the last ten years. That, at least, is the only logical explanation for his claim that Christains engage in terrorism far more often than Muslims. He also thinks the Tea Party is a comparably dangerous force to radical Islam.
"There are so many more examples of Christians who do that," Smiley claimed, referring to terrorism, "than you could ever give me examples of Muslims who have done that inside this country where you live and work." He was discussing terrorism with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born writer and former member of the Dutch Parliament.
Ali claims it is her mission to "inform the West about the danger of Islam," but Smiley was more concerned with the danger posed by Tea Party protesters, who "are being recently arrested for making threats against elected officials, for calling people 'nigger' as they walk into Capitol Hill, for spitting on people." None of those claims are true, but then again the segment was replete with falsehoods (Full video and transcript below the fold - h/t Greg Hengler).
NBC Meet the Press anchor David Gregory appeared on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS on Tuesday night, and Smiley was outraged at Rand Paul for canceling on Gregory: "I was waiting for you to walk on the set, assuming that there would be steam coming out your ears, but I assume you calmed down now about Rand Paul canceling on you. How often does that happen, when people cancel on "Meet the Press?"
Gregory said a review found there's only been three cancellations, the others by Louis Farrakhan and Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia. Gregory said he thought the cancellation wasn't personal, but was about Paul feeling overexposed. Smiley followed up: "But is there a lesson to learn, though, from that strategy of ducking the national press? Sounds Sarah-Palinesque, ducking the national media."
Smiley said this at a time when President Obama hadn't held a full-blown press conference in more than 300 days. How is it only "Palinesque" to avoid the press? And doesn't it make more sense for Palin to avoid the liberal media than the often-hallowed Barack Obama? Gregory added:
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.