Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

Smiley Says Joyner Apologizes

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Announcement of Decision to Quit Called Unexpected

Activist broadcast personality Tavis Smiley said on Tuesday that he had not expected Tom Joyner to announce Smiley's decision to leave "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" less than 12 hours after he had informed Joyner, and had accepted Joyner's apology for doing so.



In his regular Tuesday commentary on Joyner's syndicated radio show, Smiley reiterated that he was leaving the show in June after 12 years because he had too many items on his plate, and he proceeded to outline them.

Smiley said he would help Joyner "identify the person who will take these reins, a process that you, the listener, will be involved" in.

Joyner said on the air Friday that Smiley told him he was working on too many projects, but said he believed the real reason was that "he can't take the hate.

"He can't take the hate he's taking over this whole Barack Obama thing. People are really upset with him. He's always busting Barack Obama's chops. They call. They e-mail. They joke. They threaten. You know Tavis like I do. He needs to feel loved," Joyner said.

"I think we should all let him know that black America still loves him."

Smiley alluded to the criticism over his posture toward Obama by saying, "I always prefer light, but you better believe that I can take the heat."

As he listened to Smiley's commentary on Tuesday — they are in different studios — Joyner did not address the issue of whether he had apologized. Many listeners had suspected Joyner's Friday announcement was intended to provoke listeners into expressing their support for Smiley.

Among the projects Smiley listed were a documentary directed by Jonathan Demme that offers a "microscopic look" at what happens when hospitals close in black communities and a 15,000-square-foot, five-year traveling exhibit that "tells the story of our impact on America." He said his book imprint, Smiley Books, would publish Professor Cornel West's next work, "Hope on a Tightrope," as well as one by author and life coach Iyanla Vanzant and the third volume in his "Covenant With Black America" series, "Making the Covenant Real."

He said he is planning for February the 10th anniversary of his televised "State of the Black Union" discussions, "the most watched program on C-Span every year"; plans to be at the Democratic and Republican conventions this summer, and expects to continue his nightly show on public television and his weekly show on Public Radio International — his "day jobs."

He praised Joyner and their 12-year relationship and said it was in that spirit he would help identify his successor on the Joyner show. "If being black ought to be about black folks giving other black folks a chance. . . . somebody else 12 years later has something to say and needs a platform to say it."

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Bob Johnson Says Ferraro Was Right on Obama

"Wading back into the Democratic presidential race, billionaire businessman Bob Johnson said Monday that Sen. Barack Obama would not be his party's leading candidate if he were white," Jim Morrill reported Tuesday in the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.


"Johnson's comments to the Observer echoed those of former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. She stepped down as an adviser to Sen. Hillary Clinton last month after saying Obama wouldn't be where he is if he were white.

"'What I believe Geraldine Ferraro meant is that if you take a freshman senator from Illinois called "Jerry Smith" and he says I'm going to run for president, would he start off with 90 percent of the black vote?' Johnson said. 'And the answer is, probably not. . . .'

"'Geraldine Ferraro said it right. The problem is, Geraldine Ferraro is white. This campaign has such a hair-trigger on anything racial . . . it is almost impossible for anybody to say anything.'"

Clinton was forced to call Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, "out of line" after he raised the specter of Obama's past drug use in January. He also compared Obama to actor Sidney Poitier in the 1967 film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."

Obama started his quest for the nomination behind Clinton among African Americans — an October 2006 Associated Press-Ipsos poll found Clinton with the support of 25 percent of black voters compared with 10 percent for Obama — and rose after Obama's victory in the Iowa caucuses three months ago demonstrated that he could win white votes.

"Johnson said Obama is likely to win the nomination and has had the support of 'the liberal media,'" the Observer story continued.

"They sort of dislike Hillary for her vote on the war. They don't want to see Bill and Hillary in power again," he said. "So Obama comes in and runs a smart campaign. But that's not the Second Coming, in my opinion, of John F. Kennedy, FDR or the world's greatest leaders."

Johnson's comments put him at odds with other African American supporters of Clinton. On March 15, nine black Democratic members of Congress issued a statement about Ferraro saying, "We agree with Senator Clinton in her rejection of these words, and agree with the ending of Ms. Ferraro's association with the Clinton campaign. Today, we call upon both campaigns to make good on their previously stated position — to stick to the issues!"

The statement was signed by Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio, Yvette D. Clarke of New York, Diane Watson of California, Edolphus Towns of New York, Kendrick B. Meek of Florida, Gregory W. Meeks of New York, Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri and Alcee Hastings of Florida.

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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