Tavis Smiley: Obama's Trayvon Speech Was "Weak as Kool-Aid"

The PBS host also believes the president took too long to speak speak up. 

Posted: 07/22/2013 07:42 AM EDT

PBS host Tavis Smiley was not impressed by President Obama's poignant remarks on Friday about Trayvon Martin, the George Zimmerman verdict and the state of race relations in America.

Since the president was first inaugurated, Smiley has been publicly critical of him and how he's addressed the issues plaguing African-American communities. So, his response to Obama's surprise appearance in the White House briefing room was no surprise.

"I appreciate and applaud the fact that the president did finally show up," Smiley said on this week's edition of NBC's Meet the Press. “But … he did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation. He was pushed to that podium. A week of protests outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House, pushed him to that podium."

Smiley also slammed Obama for suggesting that politicians leading a national conversation on race may be less effective than individuals doing a bit of soul searching on their own.

"I don't know how the president argues that he doesn't believe that he can have a role in leading us in a moral conversation. This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue," Smiley said. "I don't know how he argues he can't lead us in a conversation on this, but he can on gay marriage? He can on a litany of others? He can on Israel and Palestine but not race?"

Soon after the president spoke on Friday, Smiley tweeted, "Took POTUS almost a week to show up and express mild outrage. And still, it was as weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid."

He also suggested that the president was forced to respond after a week of ongoing debate and protests in cities across the nation in response to the Zimmerman verdict.

Smiley's comments on Meet the Press elicited a lot of backlash and the hashtag #tavisweeps. The general consensus was that the talk show host's views are more personal than political.

"What has @tavissmiley done for blacks? All he does is go around bad mouthing PBO. He's become a joke in the black community #tavisweeps," wrote one person.

"#TavisWeeps because he is 'Bitter Man'. He cannot hide his bitterness towards PBO," posted another.

BET Politics - Your source for the latest news, photos and videos illuminating key issues and personalities in African-American political life, plus commentary from some of our liveliest voices. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter. 

(Photo: Courtesy NBC News)

Videos You May Like

From Our Partners