Monday, April 14, 2008

Tavis Smiley's Last Stand!?!?

I don't venture over to the FM side of the dial very often, so I haven't been paying much attention to how Tom Joyner Morning Show contributor Tavis Smiley has been received since his notorious Obama bashing a month or so ago. For those under a rock, Smiley was unhappy that Obama turned down an invitation to come speak at his Annual Soundbyte Olympics State of the Black Union conference, and subsequently questioned Obama's dedication to the black community. When Michelle Obama offered to appear instead, Smiley said he wouldn't invite Bill Clinton or Botox Barbie McCain either, which did make some logical sense.

In the end, only Hillary Clinton showed up in New Orleans, and Tavis lobbed 30 minutes of softballs at her, while further trashing Obama on the low low. The whole saga seemed to be over, but apparently it was only the beginning of the end.

Radio show host Tom Joyner finally talks about why Tavis Smiley has abruptly ended his appearances on the syndicated show.

It was announced this morning that commentator Tavis Smiley has left his longtime post as a contributor on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. In a letter posted on the Web site, Black America Web, Joyner says that he believes Smiley left because "He wasn't feeling any love (from Black listeners), so he quit."

Some callers into the Tom Joyner Morning Show expressed dismay that Smiley would no longer be on the show. Reportedly, Smiley left because of response from some fans of the show that he was too harsh on presidential candidate Barak Obama, with a couple of callers saying that Smiley was "jealous" of Obama.

Joyner denounced that Smiley was jealous of Obama, saying that Smiley felt so hurt by that impression that he decided to not be on the show.
Say what you will about Smiley, but you can't deny that he's done some good things for the black community. At one point, he was easily recognizable as one of the most influential media figures in Black America. However, much of his downfall has been self-inflicted. From the CompUSA flap, to leaving BET, to leaving NPR, to this outlandish episode, and his current purgatory on the lifeless PBS show he currently hosts, Smiley's pretty much ethered ruined what could have been a very influential career by simply not knowing when to keep his mouth shut.

I still greatly respect the guy, but I wish he'd learn the difference between being strong and just plain being wrong. There was no good reason to slam Obama for not coming to the State of The Black Union when he's appeared on nearly every major black media outlet, including Smiley's own PBS snoozefest late last year. This whole thing was about ego, Tavis wanted Obama and Clinton both to show up to boost his own Q rating, sell more copies of that dreadfully boring Covenant with Black America, and funnel more corporate money into Smiley's personal coffers philanthropic endeavors.

Since Friday's announcement, Smiley has issued a statement claiming he didn't actually quit, despite an on-air scuffle between Joyner and co-host J. Anthony Brown that suggests otherwise. I just wish the man would reel in his ambition and learn something from this whole debacle while he still has some shred of my respect left.

Question: What do you make of this whole Tavis Smiley/Obama dust-up? Have you lost respect for Tavis? Does he have some valid points? And his this brother's name really just Travis, but he's trying to pull a fast one like some people named Leroy instead call themselves LaRoi? I'm just sayin'.

Tom Joyner talks about why Tavis Smiley left [Sun Sentinel]

Tavis's statement regarding TJMS [TavisTalks]

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