Stop the presses and mark the day. On July 1st, media personality Tom Joyner -chief peddler of the culture of consumerism in the black community-took a break from picking the pockets of black people to blast his former aces Cornel West and Tavis Smiley. And get this, Smiley and West hadn’t even done anything wrong. That didn’t stop Joyner from holding them responsible – with a straight face no less – for MSNBC contributor Mark Halprin calling President Obama a package on the air.
Those who know the history between Smiley and Joyner know that Tom “buy my cruise tickets” Joyner has been nursing his wounded ego ever since Smiley bolted from his hee-haw show back in 2008. The problem: Smiley didn’t seal his goodbye with a butt kiss.
Smiley, however, made up for his oversight in a Huffington Post op-ed in which he professed his undying adoration for Joyner and confessed that he “would take a bullet for Tom Joyner.” How ironic is it that the man who affectionately disclosed that he would take a bullet for Joyner is now defending against pot shots from that very same man?
In Joyner’s op-ed, he said of Smiley and West that “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.”
Well this may come as a shocker to Joyner, but privileged white men have called black men much worse before, both in public and private. Rarely have entitled members of the privileged class shrank from an opportunity to diminish people of color. Does the “N” word ring a bell? The idea that a privileged hack such as Halprin needed the door to be opened by two black men in order for him to feel comfortable insulting another black man is as moronic as it is incongruent. What’s next? Was tribal strife in Africa an invitation to slavery? Did the beef between Nas and Jay-Z spark police brutality?
Joyner thrashes on a bit more to make incompatible ends meet when he concludes that “a well respected journalist” like Halprin wouldn’t have insulted Obama were the stage not already set by West and Smiley. What I wonder is who told the “Fly Jock” that Halprin was ever a “well respected journalist”? Halprin has always worshiped at the feet of right-wing bottom feeders like Karl Rove and Matt Drudge. He’s a thoughtless self-promoter who spit shines the shoes of the collective republican establishment. Replace the word republican with democrat and Joyner should see his own reflection.
Truth is, Joyner’s been itching for an opportunity to get back at his homeboys for abandoning ship and curiously, he’s obtuse enough to admit it. In his belated Dear John letter to Smiley, he said he’d previously wrote a blog piece about Smiley but was wanting to pepper it with harsher language before publishing it, and was waiting for the opportune moment to spring it on his former side-kick. Hell hath no fury like a hustler scorned.
But Joyner completely eviscerates his own credibility and eliminates in our minds any possibility that he is capable of having an honest exchange when he accused Smiley of “selling books” as his chief goal. This is not to say that Smiley doesn’t have promoting books that he either writes or publishes as his goal. But if it is true that Smiley is a hustler who’s selling out his community, it is just as true that he learned it all at the feet of his mentor Tom Joyner.
On the homepage of Tom Joyner’s marketing company Reach Media, right beside Joyner’s broad watermelon smile, are statistics which boast that Joyner has the ear of 1 in 4 African Americans. Want to market some nonsense to the African American community? Joyner promises to promote it in a way that “drives results”. He’s got your back as long as he gets his cut.
Reach Media demonstrates that Tom Joyner is engaged in a barefaced lie when he pretends to be offended by those, such as Smiley, whose goal it is to profit off the African American community. To the contrary, Joyner was a trailblazer in this regard.
And Joyner’s offense at Smiley and West’s criticisms of the President is equally baseless since neither Smiley nor West have substantially changed their tones since 2008 or used offensive language to describe the President or his policies.
It comes as no surprise that Joyner’s painstakingly contrived outrage comes during the run-up to the 2012 election. Like Al Sharpton, Joyner is a pit bull for the President and an advocate for the administration, and that’s fine. But if Joyner wants to convince naysayers that Obama deserves a second term, he should focus on policy instead of personality. Rehashing beef from 2007 is a smoke screen which doesn’t go far to address the issues raised by Smiley and West. And unless Joyner can do that, he should just go back to selling cruise ship tickets because he’s not adding anything to the national debate that we should be having. I know the man likes to hear himself talk, but this time Joyner is clearly out of his league, and since Smiley isn’t there to spoon feed him political theory and explain it in a way that he can understand, it’s best that he just hush.
Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill Staffer turned political blogger. She currently publishes two blogs, Spatterblog.com and BreakingBrown.com.