Tavis Smiley, a persistent critic of President Barack Obama, now claims that the White House is quietly and systematically wrecking his initiatives by pressuring corporate sponsors to drop their support for Smiley’s projects.
Smiley told the Associated Press that members of the Obama administration, whom he didn’t identify, have successfully convinced sponsors to stop funding Smiley’s ventures, including his anti-poverty initiatives.
“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 told the AP. “They’re labeled courageous critics, but if I say it, I’m an ‘Obama critic.’ There’s race at play in the very question.”
Smiley, who is celebrating his 10th year on the air with PBS television, has also been traveling across the country on his so-called anti-poverty tour where he often criticizes Obama for not talking enough about poverty in America.
“I don’t have an anti-Barack agenda,” Smiley said, “but this is what I do: My job is to raise questions of accountability.”
But Tom Joyner, host of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” said Tuesday that he doesn’t believe the Obama administration is strong-arming Smiley’s sponsors, adding that Smiley’s ratings are low and advertisers are jumping ship.
“Tavis, here’s the problem: Your sponsors are pulling out because you don’t have numbers,” Joyner told his listeners on Tuesday’s show. “That’s your problem. You don’t have a platform. You’re losing affiliates; you’re losing sponsors; not because someone is plotting against you.”
The White House had no comment about Smiley’s allegations, but Smiley’s claims seem especially shaky since he refuses to name the Obama administration officials who he claims are pressuring his sponsors.