Commentator quits radio show over Obama ‘hate’

April 11, 2008

ATLANTA – Commentator and activist Tavis Smiley has quit the syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show” after 12 years because of the “hate” he got from the show’s mainly black audience over his criticism of Sen. Barack Obama, Joyner sobamaman.jpgaid.

Joyner shocked listeners when he announced Smiley’s departure from the influential radio show on Friday and said he believed Smiley “can’t take the hate” he’d received from listeners who support the Democratic presidential candidate.

“We (the show and its listeners) are so emotional about this Barack Obama candidacy. If you don’t say anything for Barack Obama, you’re considered to be a hater.”

“He (Smiley) loves black America and black America has been very critical of him,” Joyner said on his show, which has millions of listeners. He said he wanted Smiley to reconsider his decision.

Smiley criticized Obama, who would be the first black president, for declining to attend his annual “State of the Black Union” conference in February, a conference attended by Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton.

Joyner’s comments raise an issue for blacks who have voted overwhelmingly for Obama in a string of primaries and caucuses: does support for Obama among them run so strong that those who express a different view get a hard time?

Commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson published an online column on Friday backing Smiley’s right to express a dissenting view on Obama and hitting back at his critics.
“Hang tough (Smiley) and don’t let the black Obama thought police run you out,” Hutchinson said in his weekly column.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/John Sommers II (Obama speaks at a campaign stop in Columbus, Indiana, on April 11, 2008) 


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Tavis needs to grow up. How can you work in an industry where you criticize others and then can’t take criticism. Can he just be a man? Maybe he should leave that show and just to his Public TV show which is less controversial and he is very good at. Black people love him they just don’t agree with him and we are very expressive people.

Posted by major | Report as abusive

Tavis will be missed but many of us are glad that we can go back and listen to Tom because we really was not feeling his negative remarks about Obama. Plus, he was “fair” in his remarks with the other candidates. If you’re going to hold the candidates accountable, you have to hold all of them accountable, not just the black one.

Posted by sandra | Report as abusive

come on yall this guy makes his bones on controversy not truth, heat gets turned up and he calls it hate?

Posted by Lanny Davis | Report as abusive

This is true!

If one were to go to different sites and read the comments from Obama’s supporters, you will be amazed at how vile they can be to others who don’t support him!

We can agree, and we can disagree… but we don’t have to spew hate-filled comments just because we’re on different sides.

Some comments are so condescending and arrogant (just like their candidate). They generalize that anyone who doesn’t support Barack has a less than high school education, and earns less than $75,000 a year! How arrogant is this?

Posted by GS | Report as abusive

it is a shame that anyone who is critical of anyone or anything else is labeled as a ‘hater’ and run out of town. those in the black community should be ashamed of this story, since there is nothing wrong at all in questioning the questionable.

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive

Hey folks, the “Speech Police” may get you next, so be careful that you don’t offend anyone who may not have the same opinions. What the Hell has the USA become!

Mr. Smiley, how sad to think you were hounded until you felt it necessary to leave your employment position. I firmly believe that those hounding you with hate speech need lessons in civility, and also a better education.

Hang in there, Mr. Smiley.

May God bless you.

Posted by Scarlet | Report as abusive

Tavis, I find it very difficult to do to you what you did to Sen. Obama in spite of my strong desire to do so. All I can say is SHAME on you.

Posted by Gil Spencebbb | Report as abusive

I think Tavis made a tactical error in trying to press Barack to attend the Conference. That would have been more fuel for the Clinton’s and other to categorize him as only a black candidate. I believe strategically Barack made the appropriate decision to try and become better known to people who would generally not vote for him. He has to win the presidency first and that will take more than the black vote. The time to engage his dialog and support is when he becomes president and I don’t believe he would have any reservations about that. We all should take a deeper look at the character and judgment of the candidates. Simply appearing at an event does not imply commitment. Especially during an election campaign. I am not a Tavis hater.

Posted by RobertF | Report as abusive

Thank you Mr. Smiley for having the strength of character to not let your opinion be shifted under pressure. So many black people are falling prey to this pressure and it is very un-American.

Posted by Kathleen | Report as abusive

The problem is that people figure that an Obama criticizer is someone who is too moderate. This country has become so conservative that people cannot imagine that a critique of Obama might come from his left and not from his right. We’ve forgotten our nation’s history and now presume that any effort to keep Obama accountable is somehow a ploy to support conservative Democrats. Obama will only be as progressive as progressives demand that he be.

Posted by Jeremy | Report as abusive

Similar to his BET boss Bob Johnson, Tavis Smiley hate towards Barack is founded in his blinded support for Hillary Clinton. I don’t blame Barack for not allowing Tavis to use the “State of the Black Union” conference to undermine his candidacy similar to Bob Johnson’s earlier comments/inuendos on Barack’s former drug use. Tavis was not fair in his criticisms – he would never call out Hillary for her blatant lies about her experience in Bosnia, support for Nafta, or that she was aware of the purpose of her vote for Iraq war.
The hate he was receiving from the audience from the Tom Joyner show was more rooted in his own bias and hate against a great role model for Black American youths.

Posted by Wayne | Report as abusive

I am just enjoying watching the leftists turn on and cannibalize each other with the same viciousness they usually reserve for anyone on the right. A more vicious hatefilled and misinformed bunch of loons I can’t imagine.

Posted by joyce | Report as abusive

The Chickens … Are Coming Home … To Roost …

Posted by Aha | Report as abusive

This does not bode well for 2008. If Obama doesn’t get the nomination, there will be riots. IF he does get it and then loses to McCain, there will be riots.

IT’s never good when raw irrational emotion drives such a large number of people.

If Obama loses, it will be because he is no different from all the other politicians; corrupt, opportunistic, powerhungry, loose with the truth.

His state legislative career began when he used dirty tricks to get the woman who had the office removed from the ballot! she didn’t lose the election, she got rolled! That woman was a respected civil rights leader, a black woman, loved by her voters!

Obama is just like Hillary or McCain or any other politician, he’ll do anything, break any promise or rule, to get power. His wife is even worse. God help this country if they get in… even the Republicans will say they wish Bill and Hillary were still president instead of these two!

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Opinions from left and right! Dave, If Obama is like any other politician, why shouldn’t we give him a chance? We’ve given others chances more than once even after they screwed up. Why NOT him. How do you know his wife is worse? Do you personally know her? I found her to be quite intelligent just listening to her speak. I’m still on the fence with my choice but in reality Hillary has already had the chance to be in the White House, McCain is too old and I’m left with not much else. Obama gets my vote this time around.

Posted by Christina | Report as abusive

SAS that Black americans shun their own for not supporting the chosen one! Just shows that the Kool-Aid does not affet everyone. Tavis is a man of character..something BOB is not!

Posted by Chad | Report as abusive

Tavis, I used to like you but since you want to jump all over a person of color that has a real shot at the white house you set yourself up for this. Haven’t we moved past the “Monkey in the barrel” syndrome. Instead we should lift each other up. You and Robert Johnson are going down in flames along with the rest of the Hillary supporters

Posted by POPOLOP | Report as abusive

It’s really to bad we have so much envy in our black community, that we can never have a healthy debate without attempting to kill eachother off. Why are we fighting to save the Clinton’s when we can’t even save ourselves, and as for Hutchinson and a number of other black columnists they need to write more about how the white media controls the negative images designed to keep us enslaved in our communities across this nation.

Tavis needs to stop playing God! for his corporate sponsors and come back down to earth. He can be critical and offer advice and consul to OBAMA, has he caaled him lately?

Posted by jimmie | Report as abusive

We’ve come a long way as a nation of Black Americans…from our ancestors in shackles being enslaved to pick cotton, to children having police dogs and fire hoses turned on them as they marched with Dr. King for freedom, to today when we have our first REAL opportunity to witness a Black man being elected to the most powerful position in the world, the President of the United States. It’s a reality our ancestors could only dream their lineage would see, and now here we all are in the very midst of that possibility. This is not just some average election. The day is finally here, and understandably the stakes are incredibly high. So for seemingly intelligent men like Tavis Smiley and Bob Johnson to use their positions of power and visibility to actively block another black man from reaching an historical “first”, and for them to not understand why so many are upset with them is just foolish.

Has wealth and power put Tavis and Bob so far out of touch with their own people that they risk becoming modern day versions of Clarence Thomas (Mr. “I’ve got mine, so what if nobody else gets theirs”)? They have every right to support and vote for Hillary Clinton or any other candidate of their choice. But is it really necessary for them to publicly whip their own black brother to the point of potentially ruining him and his dream? When Bob Johnson was trying to establish the black television network BET, and when Tavis was an unknown hoping for a career as a television and radio personality, both men had to rely on favors and support to get them to their dream. Had someone like Oprah or Jessie Jackson used their own success and visibility AGAINST Bob and Tavis, said negative things about them in the media, and virtually done everything they could to PREVENT them from achieving their goals, they would have been outraged. But no one blocked their dreams. In fact, Black America did as we’ve always done… rallied around them and gave them a shot of support when they needed it most. But now that they have their job, they want to use their own power AGAINST another black man who’s simply seeking a job of his own???

Again if they want to support Hillary or anybody else, fine. If they want to disagree with or even dislike Barack Obama, fine. But to use their own voice and power AGAINST him, to the point of sticking out their foot in his path to purposely trip him and make him fall, NOT FINE! Any Black American who would do that, at a time when it risks altering history and ruining a political “first” is just out of touch. This election is much bigger than the man, Barack Obama, yet Bob and Tavis have turned their backs on this reality. It’s not surprising that Black America is now turning its back on them!

Posted by DJ | Report as abusive

We don’t all have to think alike. I’m not sure Tavis understands that it’s not all about him. His response to Obama’s missing his “State of the Black Union” makes him seem like an opportunist rather than a journalist or social critic.

Posted by Gloria | Report as abusive

Tavis has been one of my favorite radio personalities for a long time. It is too bad that he, as well as a African-American superdelegates supporting Clinton, have been ridiculed and threatened by the “unifying” candidate, Obama, and his campaign supporters.

This is one aspect of the “race” debate that has not been discussed — namely, that there can be PLURALISM within the African-American community. It should be obvious to any idiot (other than Obama) that there is no “typical Black” person just as there is no “typical White” person.

Pluralism in America does not mean that the “voice of the [Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, etc.] community” must be heard…. Pluralism means that we recognize that there are pluralisms within each of those communities. Only then will we get beyond people’s skin colors.

What the Obamaniacs have done to the public discourse on race is actually to set it BACK. In this respect, they are not so different from Rev. Wright, who disparaged Condaleeza Rice and Colin Powell as “sell-outs”…as if there is only one authentic “black” American identity.

Posted by S Iowa | Report as abusive

I am so disappointed with Tavis Smiley’s stance on Barack Obama. While I still love the man I cannot understand why he constantly criticizes Obama. Does he really expect black America to be behind him in his treatment towards Barack? We have a black man who is seen as the equivalent to MLK and all Tavis could do is dog him.

The way Tavis and some others are acting you would think Barack is the equivalent to Dr. Rice or Colin Powell.

Tavis you need to ask yourself why African-Americans mistrust each other so much. Plantation politics maybe?

It has taken black America so long to get to this point and Barack has shown himself to be a great leader. Can you blame us for protecting his character as we have? After Barack is elected as president we are going to have to do some serious reconciliation in our community.

Posted by Karen | Report as abusive

Sad that diversity of thought, ideas and opinions not tolerated

Posted by Mary Beth Williams | Report as abusive

I have tried to understand why Tavis has had problems with Barack. I clearly see that he was upset that he did not show up for the conference but so what. Ive seen Tavis on Bill Maher and in newspaper interviews and its rare that he ever attacks barack’s policies. he mostly comments on how he is running his campaign. I truly feel there is a bit of jealousy there. Similar to how he was treated by Sharpton in the press early on. I would say that it is a black thing but I think Bill Clinton is jealous as well. I believe that Barack has tapped into an emotion so deep in some people that it scares some, makes others jealous, creates a backlash of hate in some, and becomes a movement with folks who have been waiting for a leader.

Posted by Brian Radford | Report as abusive

How interesting that this event has revealed the true state of the black union, long after the conference is over. At least this we can avoid this problem next year, because we don’t need to waste our time with some silly conference about something we already know.

Posted by Russ Ward | Report as abusive

As an educated and 62 year old black american man, I find it hard to believe that blacks hard to remember that they are black. (Youngsters may easily have a problem to relating to the experience of the changing face of historical racial minority.) From slavery to subtle rasicism, nothing is new upon thousands of centuries. Trans-culture to trans-continent, the war is the same.

To make history, to force a change of perspective to all of America and the world, to project a change of power, and to allow dynamic and truly culturally diverse person (read his bio.) to represent leadership in this most common of wars, makes no sense to me.

Tavis Smiley, Bob Johnson, Clarence Thomas, Gloria B., or any of my racially and cultrually mixed up Blacks in waiting, wake-up, grow-up, and smarten-up.

Posted by DAIVD GOODWYN | Report as abusive

DJ, you’ve said everything I could have tried at, and much more eloquently than I ever could. Well put.

I will admit, I’m simply astonished at the amount and severity of hatred and anger within the very discussions about Obama. Although there are always sensible people on both sides, it is becoming increasingly difficult to hear them through the immense storm of bitterness and vicious diatribe. How can you feel good about yourselves if you accomplish nothing but destroying each other?

Obama represents many things, some good some evil. But like any relatively moderate politician these days, he must make some concessions to gather support. So must Hillary and so must McCain. To attack Obama as if he represents the epitome of everything that is wrong with black politicians today is beyond silly: it’s political defenestration. We must start somewhere in our task, and Obama seems like a considerably honest and compassionate candidate. Support Hillary or McCain all you like, but Obama has never dropped to the level that Tavis Smiley has in his attacks.

Perhaps we should consider acting likewise.

Posted by Tamarron | Report as abusive

What timing! Especially since Tom Joyner was deemed to speak on the “race conversation, meeting David Wilson” on tv tonight, whereby the first segment panelist brings up the names of Rev. Wright, Obama and Bill Clinton.
Then we go a break, and what you see is a big banner,
Decision 2008 by msnbc.
The only white woman on the panel was the DC Police of Chief, and she was asked how do people see you, she replied they see my uniform. Couldn’t they have merged
her struggle to get to the high rank of Chief, and what
sexism, and racism she has experienced on the job?

Yea, that’s a good play Tom Joyner, Travis couldn’t take the hate, heck according to the show he was born with it
anger, you owe him an apology!

Posted by Fannie | Report as abusive

I think that Tavis did just what he should have done “got mad and took his lil ball home.” True he might love African-Americans but he needs to grow up!!! If he can criticize, he should be able to take criticism. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. And he needs to apologize to his mother for living in her home and not speaking to her for two years. I see no pride in him being that disrespectful. The only thing that I am willing to send Tavis is the stick that his mother should have put on him when he did that…no matter his age. I hate to bring bad blood but like Bob Johnson with BET showed us, life goes on after Tavis and so can the TJMS.

Posted by Massena Williams | Report as abusive

Barry H. Obama is an afro-centric Marxist. He resents the white portion of his heritage, as proven by his behaviour and words over the last 20 years and the behaviour and words of his wife, Michelle. People don’t like Barry and his wife, not because of their skin color, but because of their politics and bitterness. Interesting how Barry calls small town white people bitter when it is he who is the bitter one. We see in others what we are ourselves. It is also interesting how his “words of hope and optimism” suddenly got negative. I think we would see a whole new Barry after he was elected. Fortunately, he will not be elected now that the truth about him is out.
Black people of America wake up. Voting for a Marxist simply because he is black will do nothing for you or America.

Posted by ricardo maxwell | Report as abusive

I find it extremely interesting that some posters think they are owed something by the rest of America.”…Clarence Thomas (Mr. “I’ve got mine, so what if nobody else gets theirs”)? Justice Thomas “got his” by WORKING FOR IT! It is the same for any American, or at least it should be.
And to be taken in by someone as slick and smooth talking as an O’bama, just because he has a similar skin tone or one of his parents is black is simply ridiculous and self defeating. Whatever criticisms Tavis may have of Barry, he surely has a right to say them without being subjected to overwhelmingly hateful invectives from the black community. A community that apparently swallows all the O’bamamania hook, line and sinker.

Posted by ricardo maxwell | Report as abusive

As American Americans, we can sometimes be our own worst enemy.

How is it that we (as African Americans) can believe a white man or a white woman can deliver more to African Americans and ALL of America than an African American? We just seem to look to white leaders for our well-being.

I think that Mr. Obama is great for ALL OF AMERICA!!!

Posted by BillForObama | Report as abusive

Block a black man from becoming President? Is that what criticism does? Equality does not entitle one to immunity from criticism. In fact, the criticism’s leveled at Obama indicate that his candidacy is being taken seriously and that he is viewed as a worthy opponent to the others who happen to be running. Obama is running for Presdient of the United States, not beauty queen. Its imperative that all the candidates be looked at critically and rationally by America’s voters.
Do you think that Putin and Ahmadinajad are concerned with the PC aspects of dealing with a President Obama? Will China be concerned with offending the sensibilities of the black community? Al-Qaeda? This is the real thing people. No one is owed anything. It has to be earned. I would urge anyone who is serious about electing our next President to actually take a look at what these three people stand for rather than give one a free pass simply because they fit template that we subscribe to.

Posted by Larry Jones | Report as abusive

DJ – You do realize that the “African American” owners of BET sold out to “Caucasians” for the almighty $$$DOLLAR$$$, don’t you??? And they might have been foreign caucasians at that!

Posted by Jane | Report as abusive

The fresh, clean message of hope is now revealing itself as the message of hate. Obama’s biography is full of hate, his wife is full of hate, his minister is full of hate, his buddy Bill Ayers is full of hate. No more Obama for me.

Posted by Roger Thomas | Report as abusive


You made the statement that Clarence Thomas “got his” by WORKING FOR IT!!! Well, partially true but not totally accurate. Clarence Thomas is actually the epitome of a man who built a mansion on the beach, but is now leading the charge to stop all further beach-front construction. Hence my nickname for him: Mr. “I’ve got mine, so what if nobody else gets theirs”.

Clarence Thomas may have very well studied hard in school. But by his OWN admission, Clarence Thomas is where he is today because he benefited enormously from the very kind of affirmative action programs he now actively fights to kill. In a November 1983 speech at the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, Clarence called affirmative action “critical to minorities and women in this society.” He then went on to say: “But for affirmative action, God only knows where I would be today. These laws and their proper application are all that stand between the first 17 years of my life and the second 17 years.” While an undergraduate at Holy Cross College, Clarence received a scholarship set aside for racial minorities. In 1971 he received admission to Yale Law School due to an aggressive affirmative action program whose goal was to achieve at least 10 percent minority enrollment. Yale offered him and he accepted generous financial aid set aside for minority students. In 1991 then President George H.W. Bush appointed Clarence to the Supreme Court to replace the retiring Thurgood Marshall (a black man). In response to numerous calls from Black American leaders to honor Justice Marshall by selecting another minority to replace him, President Bush decided on Clarence Thomas. Despite his very limited court experience, Clarence happened to fit the mold: he was a conservative, and he was black!

So Uncle Clarence didn’t just pull himself up the ladder of success merely by his own bootstraps and “WORKING FOR IT”. He “got his” by using affirmative action to his advantage, and by being a smart but lucky black man in the right place at the right time.

As far as Tavis Smiley goes, one other poster put it best: “If you can’t take the heat, get out the kitchen”. Tavis has made a career out of being a thought provoking and sometimes controversial commentator. He has just enjoyed the privilege of rarely having his opinions challenged. Until now. If he’s a big enough man to criticize, he should also be a big enough man to accept criticism. It’s only fair. But as the old saying goes: “If you play with fire, you might get burned”. Apparently the flames started getting a bit too hot. Maybe leaving the give and take format of radio, and going back to the safer medium of television is actually in his best interest.


Posted by DJ | Report as abusive

Unbelievable. Tom Joyer has always been very pro black to the point of anti-white. No wonder that man quit. To be told to believe what Tom Joyer wants you to do and not what you believe was soooooo 200 years ago. Reading all the above you people are no better. Yes I did say YOU PEOPLE. Sad when freedom of chose is all gone due to a black canidate. No thanks. He is not worth it.

Posted by McGee | Report as abusive

If anyone thinks racism doesn’t exist among blacks, think again. Or better yet, go to Memphis, Tennessee and see it for yourself!

Posted by Mark VanGelder | Report as abusive

No one cares for Tavis. I can’nt understand how even got the job. He has no journalistic briallence.

Posted by Luke | Report as abusive

This sounds like the inevitable sour grapes that one might expect would result from the clash of egos in politics. Both guys are good guys, in my opinion, but the bottom line is, politicians are trying to get elected and talk show hosts are trying to keep their programs going strong. I think it’s time we do a better job of working together in America and focus on all we have in common rather than the few things we don’t. The war in Iraq has caused us to be way to angry in America. We need to bring the troops home and start stressing the positives, spending a greater portion of the budget on important domestic issues.

Posted by scott | Report as abusive

Black & White people together are being blinded by rhetoric spouted by an
‘Elmer-Gantry’ preacher-reacher, no experience, using his color as a badge, and is trying too soon! His time may come in 4 or 8 years, that would have been better
for him & all of America! Instead, his running for president has opened up Black & White wounds that may not heal for years and create more disparity among voters. Black people are all backing him because he is Black! Tell the truth, folks! You’re gonna have to face it soon enough, so start now! Hillary DOES have the best experience and chance to get this country right again! Are you all too young to remember how Bill Clinton got this country out of debt, established a great economy, though pummeled with hate from the frightened Republicans? Hillary is tough, she has experience, close your eyes, voters, stop playing the race cards and use your brains before it’s too late!

Posted by Ruth Perry | Report as abusive

As a Black hard-working widowed female, I am APPALLED by the attitudes of most Black Americans.
I thought that struggle for INDEPENDENCE was in every aspect of Life. We are now putting boundaries on what that independence means. We teach our children to be themselves.. stand up for what they believe..BE a LEADER..NOT A FOLLOWER..OH, but if a BLACK MAN gets the opportuity to run for the PRESIDENCY of the United States of America…ALL BETS ARE OFF….FOLLOW THE LEADER
How HYPERCRITICAL ARE WE?????, and we wonder WHY our children have no RESPECT for the “OLD SCHOOL GENERATION.. We can’t even practice what we preach!!!!!

Posted by dags | Report as abusive

it is trully amazing to me that alluall still think
humanity can be saved by a dip into the current
tank of political protoplasm.i am 64 years old and the most valid statement of policy ever made was by a man on the brink of political demise, spiro agnew.he said there were two absolutes status quo politics and there is nothing so constant as sad the reality is a billion dollars spent for a $400,000 a year job.the world
perishes from this mentality.

Posted by ken brotsche | Report as abusive

Yeah, we need someone leading this country who claims his “bitter” opponents “cling to guns or religion.” Meh! I don’t even own a gun and am atheist. But anyone who’s trying to be elected President of the United States, and doesn’t respect people’s right to own guns or practice religion freely DOES NOT deserve my vote. Obama, please, read the constitution before you speak again!

Or maybe he’s going to swear to preserve, protect, and defend something else?

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

If Tavis had differences with Senator Obama, he should have given him a phone call or met him out on the campaign trail to speak with him in private. Tavis would not have broken breath if it were Clinton or someone backing his program. He would have made a statement stating their scheduled did not permit them to attend and that would have been the end of that.
One thing is very clear and that is that the state of the Black Union has not accomplished anything. Blacks already know what state they are in. The focus should be not so much on the intellectual Think Tanks that are invited to speak but on the grass roots effort to bring about how we view one another as a people. Unity is the only thing that will change our condition. If we harnessed our spending power amongst each other, we would not have a need for the State of The Black Union. It would be irrelevant. Money spent amongst ourselves could create jobs, build institutions of learning, build medical facilities, affordable housing, banks, and host of other things that the we could do for ourselves.
Tavis is one brother who I have grown to like over the years. However, I fear he too has also been snared in the trap. Tavis has brought us interesting commentary over the years. Nevertheless, black folk have been his targeted audience and they are not happy about his statements about Senator Obama. There is no need for him to quit. He needs to apologize for his attacks on Obama and leave at that. We are a forgiving people. This is just a road bump. It will only be a big deal if Tavis does not apologize and he then he will see how quickly a shining star can quickly become labeled the Clarence Thomas, Armstrong Williams or Bob Johnson.

Posted by zebjudah | Report as abusive


It is fine whoever any of us choose for president. I am an Obama supporter, so view my comments from that filter.

I have listened to the criticisms of Obama that are out there, and find that most come from a bias for some other candidate or agenda that I cannot support.

McCain’s agenda is clearly with a more racially divisive and discriminating base than I can support, and I will say, that is one of my smaller criticisms of a man who supports 100 years in Iraq.

Clinton’s agenda, if you look at her voting record, is not substantially different. And, her lie about anything to win strategy displays a lack of integrity I find appalling.

I do not know what criticisms Tavis Smiley has endured from Obama supporters, but I can’t imagine any of it being of a level to make a real man quit anything. And, the way the ___ is flying, who knows if any Obama ‘supporter’ is actually speaking for Obama, or attempting to make Obama’s real supporters look extreme.

This looks a lot like conservative theatrics to me. And, it makes me wonder what is wrong with this country that people buy this kind of garbage.

Posted by Larry Gilliam, Elverta, CA/USA | Report as abusive

RE: But to use their own voice and power AGAINST him, to the point of sticking out their foot in his path to purposely trip him and make him fall, NOT FINE! Any Black American who would do that, at a time when it risks altering history and ruining a political “first” is just out of touch. This election is much bigger than the man, Barack Obama, yet Bob and Tavis have turned their backs on this reality. It’s not surprising that Black America is now turning its back on them!

I am surprised by remarks like this. Barack is just a man and the more I read, not a very nice man in my opinion. To suggest someone is stopping ‘history’ is ridiculous.

Posted by Thom | Report as abusive

Hate is in everyone’s primal bones, because we fiercly protect what is ours, unto death or other misfortunes. Civility is the key to suppressing this hatred. It must be confronted calmly, slowly and with force, if one hates so much they are willing to do you, or your family, harm…


Posted by Gary Reginald Dodge | Report as abusive

RE: “I am surprised by remarks like this. Barack is just a man and the more I read, not a very nice man in my opinion. To suggest someone is stopping ‘history’ is ridiculous”.
– Posted by Thom

Since you’ve already let on how much you dislike Barack Obama, I’m not surprised at your comments or that you’ve relegated him to being “just a man”. But despite your own bias against him, Barack Obama is not “just a man” anymore than Hillary Clinton is “just a woman”. Although you oddly seem to miss this fact, EACH of them are within reach of creating an historical first: Barack could become the first black U.S. President, and Hillary could become the first female U.S. President. That may not mean much to you, but it carries a substantial amount of weight with the constituents each of them represents.

Again the stakes in this particular election are extremely high, simply because of the potential “firsts” this election presents. So naturally, there is a protective core of Black Americans who are unhappy to see another black person (Tavis Smiley) not support Barack Obama. Interestingly, there also happens to be a protective core of American Women who are unhappy to see another woman (Oprah Winfrey) not support Hillary Clinton. But is one wrong and the other right? The unique difference in my example is this: Oprah doesn’t need to publicly beat up Hillary in order to support Barack. But for some reason Bob Johnson, Tavis, and others have repeatedly chosen to publicly beat up Barack in order to support Hillary. Is this type of dirty pool really necessary???

My point is this (AND I DIRECT THIS ALSO TO “dags” WHO POSTED ABOVE): We are all free to support and vote for whomever we choose. No one is trying to take that away from you. But when we take our “support” to a negative level and feel we need to beat up one in order to support the other, that’s just unnecessary and plain wrong. Support whomever you want. Like whomever you want. But just don’t cross that negative line. Sadly, THAT is what Tavis, Bob, and others have done, and that is why they face the wrath of those Black Americans who find their methods unconscionable.


Posted by DJ | Report as abusive

Tavis Smiley is only coming out against Obama because he wants to be deemed the black savior and in his eyes he’s losing that long coveted role to Obama.

What Tavis fails to realize is that Obama isn’t running for, or seeking to be the savior for Black America, he is running for the President of the United States of America. He is running to help all people, not just those of African descent.

Tavis has studied the life of Dr. Martin Luther King; however in all of his studying he has failed to grasp one of the most important factors in Kings work. King was a black man that felt the pain of racism, the sting of hatred, the unfair practices of Jim Crow, however his movement like Gandhi’s wasn’t a movement based on ethnicity, it was one based on humanity. King recognized a failed human condition and he fought to change it. Not for blacks only, for all of oppressed people. Tavis wants to focus on a blacks only movement; Obama’s movement is to improve the lives of all people.

Sorry Tavis the Kingian way is the way of Obama, not the way you would have it go

Posted by Minister Djehuty | Report as abusive

I usually enjoyed Tavis commentaries, but I thought he went to far with his commentary on Barack. I respect his right to have an opposing view, but I knew it may back fire and it did. I hope he will continue on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Barack is not the only thing he has to comment on. He has been cut down a bit, he should dust himself off and get up. I hope his pride is not so great that he cannot learn from this situation and move on. Hopefully, he has grown since the time he was a teenager and not pout like a big baby. Tavis knows the Black community has love for him.

Posted by CH | Report as abusive

Tavis Smiley – is the mouth piece for Hillary Clinton and big business…nothing more/nothing less.

Posted by Dusty | Report as abusive

what has this world come to? everyone says they want to unit the world but yet it comes down to black and white. Blacks only vote for Barac because he is black. hummm what is wrong with this picture. Isnt that “RACIST” people. The past is the past, get over it people!!

Posted by 1cabledgo | Report as abusive

Here’s an interesting article I found today on the web, that pretty much sums up the whole “Tavis Smiley” take on this issue. I’ve included the link, as well as some great excerpts from the article. Take a look:


Tavis Smiley is still whining over Obama not attending his State of the Black Union affair.

He just won’t let up.

I could see it if the scholars, politicians, and community leaders in attendance were actually involved in a sober discussion of the Black condition and ways to move the community forward, but that wasn’t what it was at all.

What it generally turns out to be–and it was true to form this year–is a cross between the Def Philosophy Jam, an infomercial for Tavis Smiley Enterprises, and a Southern revival meeting (“Say amen, Black folk”).

Thus, Senator Obama had to ask himself a very serious question–Do I want to be elected president, or simply hold up a raised fist for Black America? How would you answer that?

Yes, Senator Clinton did attend–but at this point, Hillary would attend a dog fight if she thought it would get her an extra vote.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-Tavis in anyway. Tavis mentioned during the proceedings that some of us wanted to throw him under the bus–and indeed, some of us are like that. When we see a successful young brother with a big future and everything going for himself, the first thing that many of us do is tear him down—just as he’s doing with Barack Obama. That’s an unfortunate part of our cultural makeup.


Posted by DJ | Report as abusive

Over the last few months, if one paid attention to Smiley’s remarks, one can easily see that he favors the Clintons more than Obama.
Having said that, I believe every reporter’s duty is to question the decisions and motivations of our political leaders.
Hillary Clinton claiming to have been a victim of a sniper attack in Bosnia is not only a gross misstatement, but another out of many exagerations and untruths on her part.
Obama calling small town voters “bitter”, is also a bad decision on his part wich will lead to a loss of support by small and big town voters.
What’s becoming increasingly clear is that America is lead by disconected elites who do not feel the economical and social pain felt by many. Neither Obama, Hillary nor McCain represent change, as they all are out of touch with reality and the average voter.
When reporters such as Smiley and many others become aware of this fact and address those issues head on with the voters, then and only then we will have a real campaingn reform and probably a true 3rd party viable alternative.

Posted by AyeSpeare | Report as abusive

“Joyner’s comments raise an issue for blacks who have voted overwhelmingly for Obama in a string of primaries and caucuses: does support for Obama among them run so strong that those who express a different view get a hard time?”

A hard time???!!! That is putting it mildly. My caucus last weekend was ugly. And I am sorry to say, it was Obama AA’s supporters who were saying rude, and downright nasty comments to we Clinton supporters. This behavior will do nothing to get their candidate elected, and yes, it will set back race relations. If Obama were not half black, he would not be where he is in this primary. His race brought him to the forefront and now they are doing damage that will take him backwards.

Posted by Nancy in the NW | Report as abusive

Obama’s comments concerning “small town” folks was ill conceived, but hardly hateful. Hateful comments to those who critize Obama are problematic. This campaign is getting far uglier than it should. Both sides are desparate in this close election and both are showing that desparation. In any event, whoever the Democrats should nominate would be a far supierior president than the Republican candidate who supports a ill-conceived war to whatever end, supports tax breaks for the wealthy and complete elimination of the inheritance tax. I shall support either Clinton or Obama…..

Posted by Russell Pope | Report as abusive

It seems that Obama is ready to lead this country. It is far less clear whether Black America is ready for a black president. To deny that there is a strong racial component in Obama’s support base is, in fact, denial. Let’s assume Obama wins the nomination and the White House, inheriting a badly damaged country. Consider the consequences if he and his supporters drop the ball. The next charge to the Right will be led by a group far more insiduous than self-serving merchants and self-absorbed talk radio blow-hards. Race will then clearly be an issue, no denying it.

Posted by gbreite, Baton Rouge LA | Report as abusive

Hate is in everyone’s primal bones, because we fiercly protect what is ours, unto death or other misfortunes. Civility is the key to suppressing this hatred. It must be confronted calmly, slowly and with force, if one hates so much they are willing to do you, or your family, harm…

Posted by Dantel modelleri | Report as abusive

Well, we just have to wait for Tavis’ endorsement of Hillary. It will happen soon. That was the crux of the problem. He prefers Hillary over Obama, but somehow, was unable to bring himself to do it. Go Tavis, you can do it, Endorse Hillary. After all, Bill Clinton (and by extension, Hillary and Chelsea) was the first black president!

Posted by Israel Nutter | Report as abusive

The “theology” that Wright teaches at his church is nothing like Christianity as most people understand it. The brand of theology which Wright has been teaching Obama and the others at his church is called “black liberation theology.” Wright admits this and it is stated on the church’s website. Black theology is based upon the premise of the white oppressor against the black oppressed. This is why, for example, that Wright refers to Jesus as black, and his killers as white. This is the only way the story of Jesus fits within this brand of “theology.” Rev. Wright cites James Cone, another proponent of black liberation theology, as his theological inspiration. Here are just a couple of James Cone’s quotes: (1) “To be Christian is to be one of those whom God has chosen. God has chosen black people.” (2) “While it is true that blacks do hate whites, black hatred is not racism.” (3) “All white men are responsible for white oppression.” (4) “Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man “the devil.” (5) “If there is any contemporary meaning of the Antichrist, the white church seems to be a manifestation of it.” (6) “Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community … Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.” *** These statements, and this “theology,” are fundamentally racist and divisive. The fact that Obama has chosen to belong to this racist church for 20 years speaks volumes about his character and judgment, and flies in the face of his pronouncements about his ability and intent to “unite” this country.

Posted by james | Report as abusive

I’m sick of hearing Tavis Smiley complain about how Obama didn’t show up for his State of the Black Union, this year or last year. If people haven’t noticed, Obama doesn’t want to be the black candidate. He just wants to be the candidate. There should be no difference between black interests and white interests, or brown interests and yellow interests. It’s American interests. It’s human interests.

The only reason it’s an ‘issue’, Obama being black and Hillary being a woman, is because people won’t stop talking about it. If I was in his position I wouldn’t go to a State of the White Union. I wouldn’t send a signal that one demographic is any more important to me than another, not for votes but for the sake of brotherhood.

He’s not the black candidate, he’s a candidate who happens to be black. Hillary isn’t the woman candidate, but a candidate who happens to be a woman. It’s amazing how many people say they want unity but are so willing to revel in immaturity when given the chance.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

Lets face the reality here. Obama is for blacks and blacks will defend him even if he killed someone. Travis can have a different perspective on Obama. Blacks sold out Travis, who is intelligent and fervent in his desire to advance black agenda. His desire is just as strong as Obama’s. What’s wrong with the black community. Just because Obama is black, he does not automatically become the potential president just for blacks. The is obviously showing to the American people and that is why Obama will be just a senator for Illinois at the end of the day. Your stupidity will be the downfall of Obama.

Posted by Jim Richmond | Report as abusive

I’m black and I live in New Orleans but I don’t know anything about this black union address. Tavis Smiley has not done anything to improve my life in anyway. However, I do know who Obama is and he has had an effect on my life already just as a candidate. I’m voting for him because he can effect my life even more as president in a good way.

It sounds like this Tavis is a pure hater.

Obama is MLK’s dream in the flesh.

Posted by marie | Report as abusive

Why do blacks get a free pass to vote along racial lines?

Posted by Rodrigo | Report as abusive

Not sure exactly why Tavis is leaving the TJMS show. He has served the show well-but the show will not perish because Tavis will no longer be on it. While I agree Tavis has a right to his opinion and his voice is important to Black America, I did think he handled the fact the Obama was unable to attend the State of the Black Union in a less than professional way. He made too big a deal of it. Whether Tavis is for or against Obama is his right–but he needed to understand that Obama had to be in many places and his not attending Tavis’s event does not make him any less interested in Black America or our issues. Tavis needs to pull up a bit–saw him on Real Time with Bill Mahr–he is losing his sense of humor. Excellent comments and insight however.

Posted by Michelle | Report as abusive

I am personally elated that Tavis Smiley has left the show.. He has been given way too much time to attack Barack Obama. His comments are unwarranted.. It is very clear he is a Clinton Suck boy and paid by the Clinton’s. He doesn’t attack the Clinton’s at all, not to mention all the stupid stuff she has said.. How do you not know if you are under sniper fire??? DL Hughley, Tavis Smiley and Ben Johnson are all Hilary lying Clinton supporters, how can anyone support this lying, disingenuous woman. She should drop out because she is such a liar. Talking about Rev. Wright could not be her Pastor.. I think most married women would say Bill Clinton could not be their husband. They are such liars, who wants more of the Clinton’s. They have taken black people for granted..

Posted by Cynthia | Report as abusive

Seems like both sides are going overkill on this… it really isn’t that big a deal for Obama to not show up at the Smiley event (for goodness sakes, the guy’s running for president), and it really isn’t a big deal for Tavis to say he was disappointed. What seems to be the real issue here is that everybody seems to think they know what is “right” for black America. Could we settle down and pretend, for a minute, that race is not everything?!

Posted by Ken | Report as abusive

When majority of us are start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, people like Smiley has been out of touch with majority of us. It is sad to see people like Smiley is against most popular among many Americans. Smiley open your eyes and get real!

Posted by Adrianne | Report as abusive

To my fellow American Voters!
Obama should be judged by his sincerity/honesty/intelligence/courage/e loquence,etc which
the other two candidates lack, and not by his colour,
Middle-Name & his half African origine. America is being
given only one chance in history now. There will never be
another OBAMA again, while there will always be thousands of Clintons & McCains!
So my Dear Voters. Do not let this opportunity go astray!

Posted by Jean Michel Nehme | Report as abusive

Tavis comes off as a self centered whiner because Barrack wont play in his game. I’ve always been amazed that people like Tavis have appointed themselves as the spokesperson for the black race. This shows that as long as he feels that he’s somehow better, and can control the siutation he’ll support them, otherwise he’ll do all that he can to destroy them. Shame on you Tavis. You’ve not only lost my ear for your opinion, more importantly you’ve lost my respect.

Posted by Rodtech99 | Report as abusive

All these conversations are only a prelude to bigger things. As an African American it is quite disconcerting when you hear all these negative talks about any one that asks questions. Obama has had overwhelming support from the black community but yet has chosen to distance his campaign from ever being looked on as the “Black candidate”. I think people need to ask themselves why that is. If the black community is to ever move forward, the resentment and hate for has to be put to rest. We should all be at time where we look on all people based on their merit and not their skin color. We should judge all candidates on their message. It is not hate to evaluate and scrutinize all candidates before voting on one. If we don’t scrutinize all candidates how are we to know we picked the best and most qualified candidate? It’s so shameful that we yell racism but yet we vote 90% for Obama solely because is black. We vote for this man (who nobody really knows) because of his color? I think we should see passed that. We should also know that this man also has a white mother.

I ask that we start asking questions and start getting answers. That is the best thing we can do to any candidate we feel is the best pick. Believe me come November, the Republicans will not take it easy on Obama because he is a “Black” candidate. If the black community wants to make race a factor, we can only blame ourselves when Obama loses to McCain. I guarantee this is will be the dirtiest election in our time because race will be a factor. It shows among these blogs. People can’t even whisper one bad thing about Obama. We all I have to say is that he is not my candidate of choice. Having the same race as me doesn’t automatically give someone the foot in the door. I want a candidate who is best qualified and of my pick he just doesn’t make the cut…

Posted by leadNotbeASheep | Report as abusive

I sure hate the vile and negative energy that Tavis and his family has received, but surely he is not the first person to receive hate message from speaking out. I do not feel he should have received it, but I think it comes with the territory.

The behavior he experienced is not something that is just symptomatic to Obama supporters, because I have heard it from Clinton supporters as well. No matter what some people go too far.

Tavis quitting the radio show, is understandable, but I disagree with his methods. Does this mean he is going to give up on Black America, too? Are we not going to see anymore “State of the Unions”, either?

Like someone mentioned eariler….it seems like overkill on both sides. I wish Tavis the best in whatever he decides.

Posted by SMK | Report as abusive

To Tavis: Get over yourslef! Sen. Obama had other priorities during the caucus. Deal with it. And brother to brother, the way you’re dealing with this entire issue has not been a good look for you.

To Tavis’ critics: Don’t be morons! Although we no longer get Tom Joyner in Los Angeles, I can only imagine the nucklehead comments directed at Tavis. He has been committed to the advancement of Black Americans for a very long time and deserves more respect. Even if you don’t agree with his comments, which I happen to disagree with also.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson: Get a life and please have a nice big cup of STFU!! Your criticsms of Obama have been WAY off the mark for quite some time now. So please don’t try to drag Tavis’ good name down your sorry path by attempting to relate to him. His word is credible, yours is not. It’s that simple.

Posted by Alvin C | Report as abusive

The bottom line here is that Smiley got a bit too big for his britches … Once he realized that his “endorsement” of Obama was not going to make or break this man’s bid for President, his commentaries became personal. He lost his perspective as a journalist and went into childish temper tantrum mode. I’m sorry to see it come to this because Smiley is a bright and articulate man who has presented some very interesting insights in his commentaries over the years. And I don’t doubt his love for Black people. Unfortnately, though, he does not seem to be ready to accept that there is another voice that speaks loudly, honestly, and passionately for not only Black Americans, but ALL Americans. Further — and quite frankly, all I’ve really seen Tavis do is talk, hold a “State of Black America” forum, and sell books. This most recent situation has simply exposed Tavis for what he is — a lot of talk and little real action. And terribly, terribly immature.

Posted by EG | Report as abusive

Obama promises change… but he practices intolerance.
He promises bi-partisan politics… but practices partisan rigidity and authority.
He cloaks himself in a dozen flags on stage… but is embarrassed by patriotism and the practice of religion.

Smiley is a good man and entitled to his views without being called a traitor. Is this what they mean by – take no prisoners?

Posted by alance | Report as abusive

what ever happened to voting for the best person for the job?…religion…since when are these the things we vote on and discard the merits and skills the candidate needs to do the job?

Purple with pink poke-a-dots and atheist, who cares!!!

Stop focusing on and discussing the racism and religious hatred and it will stop coming up…and the people can focus on each persons ability to do the job instead.

Posted by cthings | Report as abusive

tavis had the right to voice how he feels, i support him because blacks are voting for him obama because he is black. it look like all the things he has mess up and how he dose stupid stuff it seem to be ok with you black floks. he is not going to put you people in know better place then you are now. you see he lie’s and speakes out of turn , woooo for you presdent hopeful..

Posted by lady | Report as abusive

Looking at all the posts folks have written shows Tavis was wrong. I don’t agree with him quitting the TJMS because he is getting “angry” messages from listeners. Tavis has a huge ego just like the rest of our community activists. He is a leader. He has a huge audience (me included). But he was simply wrong because he did not want to agree on a compromise with Barack’s campaign. Lest not forget that Michelle Obama sought to sub for her husband on the panel but the offer was turned down by Tavis and company. Even after several attempts to defuse the incident by Barack did nothing but enrage Tavis when he went on the offensive against Barack and his followers. Folks, read his words and look at the timeline on what Tavis said. Look at what Barack said and offered. Then decide for yourself who was wrong. It really did not have to blow up this way and it is sad. I know Tom Joyner feels this way based on how carefully he is choosing his words on this subject. (Thanks Tom!) We all make mistakes Tavis, but true leaders will own up to mistakes, misspoken words or words taken out of context. I have a high regard for Tavis for his lifelong work, but he was wrong this time. Comeback to the fold Tavis and get over it. We still love you, brother!

Posted by B-More in the House | Report as abusive

Hmmm, the only real problem I see with any of this are the people that have been duped into thinking that Obama and Hillary are going to do anything for this nation. How you spell LENIN?

Posted by Mike, Fredericksburg VA | Report as abusive

Tavis Smiley , you are an inspiration. This is coming from an Obama supporter. I appreciate your critical discussions. I appreciate your love for my people. I appreciate you. We all do even if we don’t show it. Thank you brother. Please rest assured that you are doing great works that may not always be accepted without attacks on you but they are always recieved in the spirit of love. Whatever you decide to do, keep the faith.

Posted by CH | Report as abusive

Thge only thing is, Barack Obama is not a black man. The American black community who claim him are claiming someone who is using race to gain a racist advantage and he is not even Black. There are no scientific or logical argiments or tests that can establish that barack Obama is Black. He is and I know you will hate this with all your racist little hearts, but, Barack Obama is a mixed race man and he is probably more White than black based on his ancestors.
To continue to advance the agenda that Senator Obama is Black is racist to the core and pandemicly dishonest.

Posted by Peter Courtenay Stephens | Report as abusive

Liking this a lot – clean and crisp, well done!

Posted by toner | Report as abusive