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Tavis Smiley: White Progressives Who Make the Same Points Are Labeled ‘Courageous’

Nine paragraphs in, AP TV writer Lynn Elber shares a rather explosive accusation made by Tavis Smiley,  who celebrates his 2,000th Tavis Smiley episode on PBS tonight.

The logical assumption is that a prominent black media figure like Smiley would be welcomed with open arms by the White House. But according to Smiley, who has also previously talked a lot about his lack of Barack Obama interview access, it’s not just Conservatives, Liberals and some African-Americans who are upset with his pointed views:

Smiley contends that members of the Obama administration, whom he didn’t identify, have pressured sponsors to drop their support of his projects, including his anti-poverty initiatives. The White House had no comment, said a spokesman, Kevin Lewis

“This administration does not like to be criticized. And the irony of it is, there’s nothing I have tried to hold the president accountable on that my white progressive colleagues have not,” Smiley said. “They’re labeled courageous critics, but if I say it, I’m an ‘Obama critic.’ There’s race at play in the very question.”

Love him or hate him, these kinds of statements are Smiley’s bread and butter. Whether it’s an AP interview, the PBS program or on public radio, where he sometimes teams with Dr. Cornel West, Smiley always calls it as he sees it. In his conversation with Elber, Smiley also makes some interesting observations about how his interview with Harrison Ford differs from a similar conversation on something like Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Read Elber’s piece here.

Previously on FishbowlLA:
Reporting His New PBS Special Brought Tavis Smiley to Tears
Tavis Smiley and Cornel West Examine Poverty in America

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