Commentator quits radio show over Obama ‘hate’
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 said.
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.
Photo credit: Reuters/John Sommers II (Obama speaks at a campaign stop in Columbus, Indiana, on April 11, 2008)