Tavis Smiley: White House Pressured Sponsors to Pull Support

Celebrating his 10th anniversary on PBS, the host defended his right to critique the POTUS.

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Tavis Smiley at the National Press Club in January 2012 (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

On Friday, television and radio host Tavis Smiley celebrated the 10th anniversary of his Tavis Smiley show on PBS and defended his right to critique President Obama, reports Lynn Elber of the Associated Press (via the Huffington Post). According to Elber, Smiley says freedom of speech hasn't come without its price and that sponsors have been pressured to bow out of his projects.

Smiley declined to identify the companies, saying he wasn't authorized to disclose their names.

While he said he understands the desire of blacks to stand protectively by the first African-American president, he's adamant about his right to take Obama to task on rising black unemployment, the use of military drones and other issues.

"This administration does not like to be criticized. And the irony of it is, there's nothing I have tried to hold the president accountable on that my white progressive colleagues have not," Smiley said. "They're labeled courageous critics, but if I say it, I'm an 'Obama critic.' There's race at play in the very question."

When asked about the allegations in the AP article, Smiley's spokeswoman Leshelle V. Sargent told Richard Prince's Journal-isms that "we are uninterested in subjecting former, present or future supporters to further scrutiny."

Read more at the Huffington Post and Journal-isms.

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