I’m going to assume that Tavis Smiley was just ignorant of Sean Hannity’s long history of documented bigotry and not consciously helping to advance his anti-black agenda during their interview last night (9/12/11) on the Hannity show. The interview purported to be about Obama’s problems with African Americans but sure enough, Hannity was soon prodding Smiley to denounce the Congressional Black Caucus’ recent comments about the Tea Party – which any regular Hannity viewer knows he has framed with deliberate racial antagonism. Hannity also pretended that, unlike Democrats, he only criticizes President Obama “on substance.” That was such a whopper, I’m surprised Hannity’s nose didn’t start growing right on the spot.
Smiley was evidently there with a goal of promoting his PBS special about the special problems facing black boys in our education system. But Hannity covered up his lack of interest in the issue by playing a brief clip from the special and saying, “Before we get to that which I think we’re going to agree on, so let’s start with the point at which we disagree. I think Barack Obama’s failed as president.”
As a graphic saying, “LOSING THE BASE?” appeared on the screen, Smiley explained his somewhat conflicted feelings about Obama.
(That was in Part 1 of the interview.)
In Part 2, below, Hannity zeroed in on his target, the Congressional Black Caucus.
I felt the rhetoric got insane during the Bush years. I try and criticize the president on substance. I have a philosophical different vision…Whoa, let’s stop right there. Hannity tries to criticize the president on substance? Dude, I don’t know what you try to do but what you actually do is character assassination extraordinaire. Hannity has impugned Obama’s patriotism (and pretended otherwise), hyped Donald Trump’s phony birtherism (even after Fox News reporter Shepard Smith had discredited it), gave a friendly platform for Trump to suggest Bill Ayers wrote Obama’s book, and is fixated on painting Obama as a white-hating, black radical. But maybe that’s what passes for “substance” to Hannity.
He continued, “Here’s the deal. When you see Jimmy Hoffa call tea party members 'sons of bitches,' and ‘we’re at war with them,’ or Maxine Waters saying that they can go straight to hell or Andre Carson saying that tea party members, conservatives in this country want black people hanging from trees, I take personal offense at that. (Obama) lectured the country on civility. (Obama’s) been missing in action and totally silent and the answer is, ‘We’re not gonna be the speech police now.’ But when it came to Sarah Palin, they were the speech police. Hypocritical?”
Hannity seems to have been referring to Palin’s use of a map of America with rifle targets on it, plus her “Don’t Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!” tweet. But the big difference is that Palin was talking about being an aggressor (i.e. shooting) whereas Carson was talking about being a victim (i.e. lynched).
What Hannity also forgot to mention is that he used the Congressional Black Caucus’ remarks as an excuse to mount racial attacks on them and the White House.
Sadly, Smiley seemed to know nothing about Hannity’s history of palling around with a white supremacist, of serving on an advisory board of an organization run by a guy who thinks “most blacks” in Tennessee are racists, or how he has jumped to defend just about every white person accused of racism – among other items in his long, disturbing record on race.
Instead, Smiley fell right into Hannity’s clutches by agreeing with him. “Yes, on both sides… This for me is across the board,” Smiley said. He added that he was “so moved” when the country “came together in a unified way” after the Giffords shooting. “We’re not a civil enough society.”
I couldn’t agree more with Smiley about the need for civility and he has every right to criticize Carson, Waters, et al. But I don’t think he understood how he was being used as a pawn in Hannity’s political calculations.
Hannity continued, suggesting that Obama should have a “Sister Souljah” moment and disingenuously asked if Obama wouldn’t “benefit politically” from telling the Congressional Black Caucus to stop using their “incendiary language.”
Fortunately, Smiley did point out that Democrats are not the only ones using such language.
But if anyone thinks that Hannity and Fox News would do anything other than exploit a Sister Souljah moment against Obama, the CBC and probably both, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’m sure you’d love to buy.