Tavis Smiley, PBS television host and liberal political commentator, has taken to some other media platforms in the past few days, trading accusations of racism with Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, on ABC and CNN and going toe to toe with Megyn Kelly on FOX News to discuss the status of race relations in the United States today.
Tavis Smiley’s brouhaha with Donald Trump was sparked by comments made by Smiley on ABC’s This Week.
CNN reports that Tavis Smiley chambered and fired some choice words at Trump, saying the Donald was “an unrepentant, irascible, religious and racial arsonist,” a description of Trump that Tavis reportedly bases on past comments Trump has made regarding Mexicans and barring Muslims from entering the United States.
Not one to take such a shot without a reply, Trump fired back at Tavis Smiley via Twitter, asking, “Why does (This Week) allow a hater & racist like Tavis Smiley to waste good airtime? ABC can do much better than him!”
Monday night Tavis Smiley continued the TV and Twitter brawl, responding to Trump’s calling him a racist, while appearing on CNN with Don Lemon, by first repeating his feeling that Trump is “an unrepentant, irascible, religious and racial arsonist,” followed by questioning how he could be a racist, and the media’s role in Trump’s current success.
“I don’t know how I’m a racist. I’m not the one who went after Muslims, I’m not the one who went after undocumented workers… My comment yesterday was not singularly directed to Mr. Trump, it’s at the media. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of watching us cover this campaign without calling him on the carpet… It says something about America that he is resonating in the way that he is, and I can’t get in the minds of the voters, I just hope that at some point we will come to our senses and that we will see that this is how these slippery slopes begin.”
Among the things on this “slippery slope” for Tavis Smiley is the notion that Trump continues to rise in the polls “miraculously,” reports Raw Story. Instead, Tavis Smiley believes the real estate mogul and reality TV host is “appealing to the dark side,” particularly in the wake of reports that white supremacists are supporting Donald.
“What troubles me quite frankly is that we keep talking about… Trump rising in the polls as if somehow this is happening miraculously,” said Smiley. “It’s happening in part because, as your lead-in shows with these now white supremacists supporting him — it’s happening because he’s appealing to a certain base voter in this country. He’s appealing to the dark side, the night side of America and that’s why he’s rising in the polls. And we ought not cover him without condemning him for doing that.”
Tavis Smiley also took issue with Trump calling him a racist, and being so quick to attack Smiley, but hadn’t seemed to have the time to address the alleged white supremacists that are supporting him.
“I’m on your program tonight because I made a comment about Donald Trump yesterday on a morning show, and within a matter of hours Donald Trump had tweeted about me,” said Smiley. “So if that story broke over the weekend about this white supremacist — again, he can’t be responsible for who is supporting him – but how can he get around to calling me a racist and a hater in less than 24 hours, but since the weekend he hasn’t gotten around to condemning a white supremacist for supporting his campaign.”
Tavis Smiley is reportedly working the news talk show circuit to promote his new book, The Covenant With Black America: Ten Years Later, not just to squabble with the leading Republican presidential candidate.
Along with ABC News and CNN, Tavis Smiley also appeared on the FOX News set of Megyn Kelly’s Kelly File program, reports Salon.
Their discussion touched on several topics, including President Obama and how both race relations and the overall situation for blacks has soured in America during the Obama presidency.
“On every major economic issue, black Americans have lost ground,” said Tavis Smiley. “For the last ten years, it’s not been good for black folk. The debate’s going to be whether he wasn’t bold enough, or whether he obstructed.”
For Tavis Smiley, the answer is “both.”
“Historians are going to have a field day juxtaposing how in the era of the first black president, the bottom fell out for black America,” said Smiley. “Black people are still politically marginalized, socially manipulated, and economically exploited.”
Finally, to bring Tavis Smiley, Trump, and Kelly into one tidy circle during Tavis’ book promotion, Donald continued an ongoing feud with Megyn Kelly, again via Twitter, responding to the FOX News hostess saying that Donald had “wooed” her.
.@megynkelly recently said that she can’t be wooed by Trump. She is so average in every way, who the hell wants to woo her!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2016
Tavis Smiley’s PBS program airs weeknights at different times throughout the country.
[Images by Scott Eisen and Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]