Several days after MSNBC suspended host Mark Halperin for calling President Barack Obama a “d***,” radio host Tom Joyner decided to confront two of the strongest voices in black America for their ill-advised rants against the nation’s first black president. Joyner recently issued a statement condemning Tavis Smiley and Cornel West for turning their personal issues against the president into hateful commentary that’s similar to white racists. Joyner’s full statement is below. –amir shaw

“About a month ago, I wrote a blog about Tavis Smiley and decided to table it because I said some things I didn’t want to publish. You’re probably thinking I went too hard him, but no. In reality, I hadn’t gone hard enough – and I knew it. I said I’d wait until something pissed me off so bad that I would have the words harsh enough to express what I was really feeling about him and his side piece — I mean side kick — Cornel West.

Well, yesterday, when Mark Halperin —a well-respected journalist, employed by a well-respected magazine and a contributor to a well-respected news network — had the audacity to call the president of the United States a dick, that was all I needed.
While I am appalled at Halperin’s statement, I have no expectations of him as a man and know nothing about his character. I am appalled, however, that as editor-at-large of Time magazine, he is responsible for among other things, deciding what stories will be covered in that publication. As the person in charge of political content, it is upsetting to know that he probably has not been objective in his dealings with material I and so many people look forward to (until now) reading each week. Needless to say, I’ve cancelled my subscription to Time magazine and hope you will too.

But I’m even more disgusted with Smiley and West, two brothers who I did have expectations of — and thought I knew. These two have done much worse than what Halperin has done because they set the tone for it, opened the door to it, and must take much of the blame for creating a climate that would make a white, professional journalist feel comfortable verbally and vulgarly attacking the first black president of the United States.

When you think you know a person, when you’ve given a person a forum to present his views, when you’ve had a hand in a person’s success, you want to believe that he is the same person he always was.

“Remember THAT Tavis — the one who could take any complicated political story that had an impact on black America and “break it down” for us every Tuesday and Thursday in less than five minutes. The one who coined the phrase “radio advocacy” and alerted us any time anyone — from a private business owner to a politician to a corporate giant — even thought about doing black folks wrong. The Tavis that loved black people so much that he would sometimes, during his commentaries, be moved to tears. Where is that guy? You know, the guy that would have been telling me, “Fly Jock, Halperin has got to go.” For a while, I thought he was still with us, even though people around me (and many of you) tried to convince me otherwise. “Tavis is a hater.” “Tavis is only about himself.” “Tavis is jealous of the president.” I wouldn’t believe any of it. I had so much respect for him before his primary goal became selling books, and, later, selling out.

As we approach the Fourth of July weekend, one that celebrates our freedoms, including freedom of speech, I wish someone would use that as a defense of what Tavis, Cornel and Mark Halperin have said against our president. When dangerous words incite and brew up hatred and violence, there is a line. And these three crossed it.

In case you believe I think Tavis and Cornel called the president an offensive name, I don’t. I think they did something even worse. Any black people with any sense know that racists on the job, at school, at church or on the bus wait for opportunities to feel comfortable enough to spew their evil thoughts. If a black person tells a racist joke in front of a racist or laughs at one, it won’t be long before the racist begins to fire off a couple of his own. Mark Halperin and others are no different. They hate the president because he is black, and Tavis and Cornel, by not having the sense to not give them the opening they waited for, went all in. And this is what we get.

So, yes, MSNBC, fire Mark Halperin. I hope he never works again. I’ve already fired Tavis and Cornel. There’s nothing either can ever do for me or with me again.

I’ve got a new D-word for the two of them: Done.”

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.

  • Mary

    So basically, what you are saying, is that as long as the president is a black president, it is OK for him to be a sell out and sell all US citizens out, even black citizens? So let me understand, you don’t want a black president to be accountable or responsible for his actions or how his actions affect the country because he is black and is therefore not to be questioned in anything he does? No checks and balances can be used or the will of the people honored? Since when does a president go unchallenged by the people? No wonder the president appears to be an ineffectual and detrimental figurehead and symbolic puppet for big business to own us further. We are ALL increasingly becoming the slaves for the political elite and mega corporations. As in ancient times, slavery will not be about race but will be about economics.

    • Honest368

      the comments you just made has nothing to do with Tom Joyner’s message above!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

    • Stephanie Durann

      “Since when does a president go unchallenged by the people? ”

      Since George W. Bush.

    • Mgilliam

      You obviously don’t get it!  Tavis, Cornel, and Halperin remarks did not have anything to do with the President’s polices! They were all personal attacks of hatred spewed in the media by them. Thank you Tom Joyner for firing them, cuddles for you! 

    • Mpgjr1

      You are clueless to what’s really going on.  I’ve served this country for 26 years as a naval officer of African decent and I agreed to defend any American right to say and do what ever as long as it’s within the confinds of the law and not harming anyone physically.  Much love for Travis and West for challenging the President but let’s be for real – these brothers are jealous for not having the President jump when they say jump and let them show others that they are connected.  So let’s keep it real, and you keep challenging and questioning power and loose the slave mentality there’s no such thing as the white man out to get us—it’s us getting ourselves if you are of the African American community.

    • Yolanda C. Gibson-Michaels

      Its not about color its about respect, morals, and integrity. President Obama did not cause two wars, did not create the mess Bush created, didn’t lie about the War in Iraq that killed well over 4,000 Americans and caused Trillions of dollars. Bush was a slave to greed, money, Cheney and lies.

  • Kalimah Priforce

    I agree with Tom Joyner. Tavis and Cornel wanted to be “in” with Obama and then repudiated him when they weren’t. I would find it grossly offensive if an Asian president started cow-towing to the Asian community’s needs. So that being the main argument Tavis and Cornel are using against the President just shows that they are opportunistic who feel slighted whenever the President doesn’t roll out the red carpet for them. What have they done lately other than being career opinion leaders? Stop writing books and start building things that inspire others to write books about.

    • Jtshrop

      Kalimah, I believe there is some truth to what you said about Tavis and Cornell, and you can add Michael Eric Dyson to the list. Tavis seemed hurt when the Prez didn’t entertain his State of Black America event and kept him at arm’s distance. With that being said, we do need African Americans with opposing views who are not afraid to voice their perspectives. That is needed and required for any democracy to sustain itself. I just have wondered more than once what Tavis’ and Cornell’s motivation is. For me to question their motives speaks volumes by itself. 

      • mikeajeff

        I can tell you what Tavis and Cornell’s motivations are….

        Tavis Smiley was a huge supporter of the Clintons. Remember- “The first Black President comment?” He thought, like many Americans, that Hilary was a slam-dunk for the White House. Boy, was he wrong! Roland Martin played on the President’s team, hence the reason he has conducted exclusive interviews on Air Force One. Rev. Al…..he played the middle and came out a favorite to the POTUS as well.

        Cornell West- we all know his motives. “My family and I didn’t receive tickets to the swearing in of this President”- Cornell West

        Btw, there’s a way to challenge this man, and Lord knows I can. But, to call him a “Black mascot for the wall street oligarchs” is not the way!

    • Dane Isaacs

      Very well said, Kalimah!!!!

  • Guest

     Joyner recently issued a statement condemning Tavis Smiley and Cornel West for turning their personal issues against the president into hateful commentary

  • Samuel

    The President of the United States is a smart man. I’m sure he can navigate his way through Tavis and Cornel’s comments and harsh criticism. Being that said, I think we need the Cornel West and Tavis Smiley’s of the world. Whether we agree with them or not they still have a voice. However Tom Joyner makes a point- if this vendetta is solely about Mr Obama not supporting a cause one is affliated with. Or not being able to have easy access to the white house. That is petty.

  • TheUnifier

    There are two types of people to be cautious of–the ignorant (lacking knowledge) follower and the corrupt person who is highly educated. Both are dangerous to any democracy.
    I wish Mr. Tom Joyner had used better language in his attack on Mr. Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West. But, clearly, Mr. Joyner feels betrayed by Tavis because of their previous working relationship. I will say this: We can’t support freedom of speech & Democracy in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, etc. if we are going to support SILENCING legitimate, constructive OPPOSITION AT HOME. That’s hypocritical and frankly why so many foreign people HATE our country’s foreign policies around the world.

  • Vandellish

    I agree with editor Glen Ford. There was no need for Cornell West to inject a personal, racial psycho-analysis of Obama into the argument against him. His horrible policies provide enough ammo against him by themselves. And no, I’m by no means a Republican or even a Democrat for that matter. The fact is that Obama hasn’t done jack schitt for the black community or for middle and lower class families. The health care reform is a joke and we won’t even get into the geopolitics of our expanding wars, the economy (he’s a NAFTA and big bank trumpet) or the Patriot Act which he just extended as well.

    I don’t think many people expected him to ‘Kowtow’ to the black community, certainly not me and I didn’t vote for him (Cynthia McKinney) because I expected him to ‘Kowtow’ to the Israeli Lobby as well as big banks and big pharma which is exactly what he is doing. I DID expect our community to collectively hold his feet to the fire and that is where I was dead wrong.

    It is my firm opinion now that our community doesn’t really REALLY want to ascend to a bigger and brighter future for ourselves…we are content with idea that we’ve ‘arrived’ and the proof of it is our unquestioning support for the latest tap dance king (who happens to look like us) holding the highest office in the United States. The more our community continues to blindly support such chameleon politics, the more it makes me want to leave this country.

  • Lovely1_ka

    There is nothing wrong with people checking the president that is our job as citizens and voters, however with the current President people come at him crazy. I have seen news stories where they don’t even address him as Mr. President or as President Obama. Thats wack! I feel like if you want to question the president then do that but make sure that you are questioning him on real issues, treat him like any other president. Thats the point of equality same treatment across the board.

  • Onesheila

    When Tavis Smiley first started his negative comments about then Senator Barack Obama, it was long before his invitation to him for the State of Black America program.  It was on the Tom Joyner Radio Morning Show when Tom openly provided Tavis a forum for his comments about now President Barack Obama whether positive or negative (actually he never had positive comments from the beginning).  I believe it is every person’s right to speak and write what they believe.  However, from the very beginning of the presidential campaign when President Obama announced he was running, I felt that Tavis had a personal issue with him.  It was something about his message, his tone and his words that really made it clear that Barack was never his choice which is his prerogative.  However, the one person who allowed him to have that voice was Tom Joyner.  Whether you agree with President Obama or not, he should be respected as President of United States. As journalists and educators, the expectation is your level of freedom of speech should be respectful and professional. That professionalism has not been extended to President Obama.  As much as I disagreed with President Bush’s policies, I would never stoop to a level where I disrespected him and I never saw that from journalists black or white while he was in office.

  • Onesheila

    When Tavis Smiley first started his negative comments about then Senator Barack Obama, it was long before his invitation to him for the State of Black America program.  It was on the Tom Joyner Radio Morning Show when Tom openly provided Tavis a forum for his comments about now President Barack Obama whether positive or negative (actually he never had positive comments from the beginning).  I believe it is every person’s right to speak and write what they believe.  However, from the very beginning of the presidential campaign when President Obama announced he was running, I felt that Tavis had a personal issue with him.  It was something about his message, his tone and his words that really made it clear that Barack was never his choice which is his prerogative.  However, the one person who allowed him to have that voice was Tom Joyner.  Whether you agree with President Obama or not, he should be respected as President of United States. As journalists and educators, the expectation is your level of freedom of speech should be respectful and professional. That professionalism has not been extended to President Obama.  As much as I disagreed with President Bush’s policies, I would never stoop to a level where I disrespected him and I never saw that from journalists black or white while he was in office.

  • Mrs. P.

    Mary you sound like Sarah Palin. Lost and just want to hear yourself attempt to C your way into an A-B conversation.Tavis and Cornell are not challenging the President.They are just hating on a good Brother. From lack of verbatim in the conversation,It appears that you do not know exactly what was said.Tom Joyner is a wonderful man who is speaking for the majority of middle America.(Black, White, And otherwise).Something that so many Americans are lacking is loyalty. He is our President. Not of Black America, or Black United States, but the United States of America.As racism was fading, You tea party, hang em’ high descendants are using President Obama as a tool to bring back separatist ways of thinking.Please stop following ignorance and educate yourselves on all of the accomplishments that President Obama has mastered.All the naysayers were so quiet as Bush I and II took us into the dirt. You have a man of many colors, not selling out, but selling up the notion of Peace, affordable health care, great education for all children in America, and putting Americans back to work. Please people I implore you to read the 100 page documents. Do Not be lazy. Know the facts before you speak. Stop being followers of negative, hateful, resentful, jealous, and distasteful propaganda.Mary and those in a cloud like Mary, President Obama is the only President that is accountable and responsible for his actions.

  • Justsowendy

    thank you Tom Joyner.

  • Anonymous

    When the president has a WPA-style jobs bill on his agenda, then I’ll disagree with Cornel and Tavis.  

  • Triplesnap

    Tom Joyner, Tavis Smiley and Professor Cornell West have all done a great deal to educate, uplift and empower the African American community. However, Tom, Tavis and Cornell are each their own man, with their own thoughts and opinions about the world in which we live. Free black men and women do not and should not speak with one voice. They should be free to speak independently and not worry about being censored or called an Uncle Tom by their own brothers and sisters because they choose to shine a light in dark places. Tavis Smiley and Cornell West have every right to criticize President Obama, who has done an abysmal job addressing the concerns and needs of urban cities and black America. As an African American, I love President Obama and everything that he and his beautiful wife, Michelle, represent. However, I am not blind… President Obama has made a lot of missteps where political appointments, foreign policy and the economy are concerned.

    • Lateef

      Triplesnap, I can appreciate your comment about people being free to speak independently.  The historical issue I see is such:  Three men with various platforms and good audiences have a bad personal event, and now have decided to end their professional friendships/business relationships with each other.  I think this is still a small facet of the “Divide and conquer” syndrome.  Together they built a great alliance; separated their team, as with any group, is not as strong.  I say to Mr. Smiley, Dr. West and Mr. Joyner, argue amongst each other and not let your neighbors know your business.  Peace my brothers.  Since being we have been our biggest and worst critics.  Mr. Joyner, I know the disdain hurts my brother, but you and your son keep doing a hell of a job with your foundation my brother. 

  • Lewis Rolen

    Everybody has the right to disagree with what the president is doing or how he is doing it. You don’t get a bye because of ethnicity. Are people supposed to bite their tongue about the second black Supreme Court Justice. Don’t get me wrong, I think some disagreements should be aired privately, however when people as passionate and opinionated as Tavis and Cornell speak they should say how they feel. President Obama needs to be pushed by people on the left. He needs to be pushed by his black constituents. We give him our votes in overwhelming numbers and should be heard like anybody else and when people have difficulty with policy decisions or the direction of the country they should speak out. Just like you did Mr. Joyner.

    • Patricia

      I agree with the basis of what you are saying because I too believe that everyone is entitle to their opinion and the principle of opposition can force one to react; to move into action mode.  What I think many are trying to say is that for many years the republicans have had political officers in place to watch their interest and do their bidding to make sure they are protected.  Unfortunately too many people, black and white believe that thiis how it is suppose to be. History does not have to be repeated and I believe that is what President Obama is trying to show us.  He is trying to do what is right for the majority of americans and not just a select few.  President Obama is the Jackie Robinson of the White House.  He is the right man at the right time who can take the heat, the pressure and the stress with grace, diplomacy and style. I believe that Obama is doing exactly what he was placed there to do by a “Higher Power”.  It must be done in this type of pressure cooker to be done accordingly.  I will vote for President Obama again because one term is not enough for him to BEGIN to turn the previous administration’s agenda around.  Shame on you Smiley and Cornel for not understanding this!

      • Priestess

        Thank you, Ms. Patricia, for eloquently stating the facts through the eyes of a highly perceptive person.  Why does everyone seem to think that everything is visible and obvious?  What kind of magic dust did “some” people think President Obama had or has that would get our country out of this mess – in less than three years – but has taken a minimum of eight years to accrue under President George Bush?   People of color are always and will always be held to a higher standard.  It’s not enough that he’s highly educated and intelligent.  It’s not enough that he’s very articulate (particularly, in comparison to our former president), remembers and knows any statistical facts and data that you throw at him as a curve ball with spit on it.  It’s not enough that he taught was a Constitutional Law Professor and was the first African American over the Harvard Law Review.  It’s not enough that he is a man of the world and has traveled outside of the United States (and Texas), speaks foreign languages, and is knowledgeable and sensitive to other cultures and religions.  It is not enough that he knows the struggles of the average American, came from a single parent family, has a white mother, and was raised by “white” grandparents.  Stop being HATERS and support OUR President and OUR country. 

  • Amhcorphrshd

    I am so glad to see Tom Joyner, the most influential black person on the airways, call out Tavis Smiley and Cornel West.  They are terrible people who harm not help black people.  You can wrap all the multi-syllable, obscure, double digit numbered words around hate that you want and it is still hate.  Tavis and Cornel are full of vile and venom.  They deserve to be ostracized and shunned by all people who prefer open and honest dialogue over hate filled discourse. 

  • Tonyd



    Thanks Tom, now I can start back listening to your show

  • Ms. C

    Way to go Tom Joyner. As a 69 year old senior, it gave me the greatest pride to see history of a black man becoming  President.  President Obama, as he should always be addressed inherited a tremendous task, a lot of which I feel was part sabatage. However, these two idiots don’t seem to see, that any  achievements the President makes, we ARE a part of it. We do benefit, We are not the only race affected. They”ve never talked about his many accomplishment Obama has made from day 1. It is soo sad, the white man don’t have to say or do anything negative against our people, we for show especially, Name capturing Phonies. as the two mentioned do far more negative vocal  assassination of our President than any other President in history. Shame on you Tavis ,and shame on you Cornell. Continue to stand Tom Joyner, your action has brought tears to my eye. And as my Mother use to say, “If you can’t  nothing good about someone, Don’t be the first to open your mouth and look like *****! You can tell this is my first response. Long winded. Love you Tom.
    A Senior with Black Pride for our People.

  • jane Graham

    why cant we be ready for the flight since someone has  volunteered to drive the plane perhaps the most qualified pilot

  • Ejohnson

    This is America.  As long as the comments are not vulgar, threatening or harmful to the President or his family they have a right to do so.  Every other President has been mocked, teased, or ridiculed.  I don’t see this as a race issue unless the comments are vulgar.  Black leaders need to stop putting race undertones out there as a reason to not criticize, mock, or joke about Obama.  If you don’t like it turn it off.  Rush limbaugh has been rude, crude, and unentertaining (even prior to Obama).  I don’t listen to him and that is my personal choice.  So, if Joyner is advocating because of his personal opinion that what Tavis and Cornel are doing is tacky, I support that because he has that right.  I don’t support censoring people because they are speakng against somone in power who happens to be the same race.  Obama is a big boy. You want to help him, register people to vote, and get him some people in Congress that won’t knock down every thing he tries to do before they even know what it is.  Assuming you agree with what Obama is trying to do.

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  • frc122000


  • AnthonyD

    Tom I am a fan of your show and I do undertand completely where you’re coming from and to some degree you have a point, but Dr. West nor Tavis have anything to do with the racist heart of another man! President Obama is no more above reproach as was former President Bush was and therefore cannot and should not be treated any differently or held to a different standard. The reality is though, he is treated differently and like all black men in america held to a doffernt standard. As a black man you can’t be equal to your counterpart, you have to be better and hope that is enoungh to get the job or promotion or anything you’ve worked just as hard to attain. Anyone who disputes that needs to try amd be a black man for one day! Chang your looks to be a person of color and go out into the world and you will quiclky see the apparent differential treatment.

    Tavis and Dr. West have the right to be critical of the Priesident as we all do, however NO ONE and I mean NO ONE has the right to disrepect the office of the Presidency! Nooses, Hitler dipictions of Obama, bringing guns to politcal rallies, tarbaby, birther issues and a host of other insults were made without the help of Tavis or Dr. West and will continue to happen weather they are on your show or not! This is what we as Americans need to address and if America as a whole won’t do it, then every black man and woman MUST unite to defend this man and the country we built over the past 400 years!!!  

  • Cheri

    Mary it is not the President who is selling us out to big business…that’s clear simply in the fact that big business is President Obama’s largest critic; it is the Republican party that refuses to support anything that supports big business paying their fair share.  As for Tavis and West, what Tom Joyner is saying now is what I’ve believed since before President Obama ever became President.  Tavis was upset with Candidate Obama because he offered to send his wife Machelle to Tavis’ state of america conference because he had a previously scheduled event.  He immediately jumped on the Hillary Clinton bandwagon because Hillary accepted his invitation personally.  Is it fair that Tavis would expect Candidate Obama to drop everything on his schedule to sit and chat with him about things that he only talk about and do nothing to further?  How you feel about that is not the issue, the issue is since then Tavis has openly when he could find support lap dogs like West to get in the mud with him, or undercover when he was called on it, trashed the President for his own personal reasons.  And now West has jumped on the bandwagon showing up for any invite that he can get to trash the President.  The question is what has Tavis or West done for Black America that gives them the right to criticize the President other than “talk about what needs to be done?”  Extending unemployment benefits, and the new healthcare laws are two initiatives that are critical to the support of African Americans, so what is it that they expect of the President–for him to pass laws specifically for Black people?  As I’ve said so many times before, President Obama is the President of the United States of America, not the President of Black America alone.  And all of the White people who support Tavis and West’s hate speech about the President would be the loudest voices to speak out if he did anything differently, because for you it’s not about what President Obama is not doing for Black America, it’s about jumping on the bandwagon of anyone who speaks out against him even if it’s two Black Americans whom you probably have never heard about before, or that you would never support if they weren’t speaking ill of President Obama.  

  • jeff

    Obama supporters

    I encourage all who have concern, regarding Illegal immigration reform to educate your selves on the effect it has on low income American citizens and teenage workers. Although I disagreed with Obamas stated position on “Illegal immigrants I did in fact vote for him.

    Now the reelection honeymoon is over, it is time to explore the real relationship between so called Hispanics and African Americans. Are African Americans willing to face the fact that most Hispanics south of the boarder have a negative view of blacks, in their own country as well as the country they have illegally entered?
    ( google the famous Mexican cartoon character mimen penguin ).

    Are black people willing to accept the fact that they may have to challenge their so called leaders such as Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson and various other so called leaders of the black community who continue to ignore the cons of granting amnesty for illegal’s.? The prospect of building a “Black / hispanic” political coalition seems to be more important than the effect it has on the working poor they say they support.

    There are huge differences between various Hispanic groups, and this communication doesn’t apply to all groups. Hispanics from the Caribbean such as Porto Ricans have demonstrated a significant amount of social and political cooperation with African Americans.

    Black folk should not remain silent while President Obama cozies up to illegal immigrants granting them legal status, at the expense of legal citizens, particularly African Americans who have patiently waited in line for jobs that what was once our ticket out of poverty.

    In 1992 a forklift drivers starting pay was 12-14 dollars per hour with health insurance…in 2012 most companies large and small outsource a significant portion of their labor to third party logistics companies That hire primarily illegal workers are paying 8-9 dollars per hour. ( no insurance).

    It is a falsehood to suggest illegal’s perform jobs that Americans don’t want. I have worked in the manufacturing and materials management industry my whole adult life
    I watched the demographics change from domestic employees to 80% illegal workers.
    Along with the starting pay rate

    If we grant amnesty to illegals that have committed federal crimes like illegal border crossing,
    Eluding boarder police, obtaining false identification, illegally accessing goods and service
    Such as Utilities, mortgages and bank accounts, working under assumed names, legal Hispanics harboring illegal Hispanics, driving with false drivers license
    or none at all.

    Why not grant amnesty to thousands of non violent Americans that are in prisons for possessing or selling marijuana? Their lives have been destroyed, torn away from families, ( all the excuses we hear about not deporting illegal’s) these Americans are incarcerated for years with a felony denying them the right to vote, for what probably was an act of desperation due to the lack of job opportunities in their own country.

    · Why are we shedding more tears for illegal immigrants then the above mentioned American citizens?
    · Why won’t we hold Obamas feet to the fire about this issue?
    · Are we going to let the Hispanic vote and illegal immigration dominate the agenda to the exclusion of the working poor American.

  • Rick Manigault

    All these years later and Cornel and Tavis were right. Joyner got ran out of town.