Tavis Smiley made headlines this week after an ongoing dispute with Donald Trump. The PBS talk show host went on the ABC show, This Week, and called Trump an “unrepentant, irascible religious and racial arsonist,” referring to Trump’s comments on undocumented immigrants and Muslims. Smiley also noted that Trump never condemned the white supremacists who supported his campaign. Trump took to Twitter to respond to Smiley’s comments saying, “Why does (This Week) allow a hater & racist like Tavis Smiley to waste good airtime? ABC can do much better than him!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2016
Smiley seemed unimpressed by Trump’s response, telling CNN, “First of all, for a guy with a Wharton degree, he’s got to do better than ‘hater and racist,” he said. “Can we just remove the word ‘hater’ from our lexicon?” Smiley told Don Lemon that he was just trying to tell the truth, “That’s what we’re supposed to be doing in this media business we’re in,” he said. He also insisted that the media shouldn’t cover Trump without condemning him, “What bothers me is that we’re talking about Trump’s rise in the polls as though it’s happening miraculously,” he said, “but 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 to cover him without condemning him for doing it.”
On Democracy Now, Smiley insisted that he was not trying to to pick a fight or be combative but that it’s important to address political rhetoric such as Trump’s. “There’s such a fine line between cynicism and skepticism,” he said. “And I think skepticism is healthy, cynicism is a bit unhealthy for me. But this is why people don’t trust government. This is why so many Americans are cynical.”
Smiley has been making news appearances recently to promote his book The Covenant With Black America: Ten Years Later. He recently spoke with Fox’s Megyn Kelly on “The Kelly File” about race relations in America. According to a recent Gallup poll, race relations are worse now than when President Obama took office. Smiley noted that this is mainly the fault of Republicans who have been divisive about Obama’s presidency. “On every major economic issue, black Americans have lost ground,” he said. “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.”
This is not the first example of Smiley being tough on Presidential candidates. In April he told Larry why he thinks it’s a “huge mistake” for the DNC to “coronate” Hillary.
He has also been tough on Obama. Smiley spoke with Larry in 2012 about Obama’s track record with Drone strikes and civilian casualties.
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