Tavis Smiley and Sean Hannity got into quite the shouting match tonight over both the Ferguson and Eric Garner cases. Hannity broke out the old, “Let me educate you” a few times. But Smiley threw it back at him.
Smiley was there to discuss the racial aspects of both the Michael Brown and Eric Garner killings by police. Or, as Hannity kept insisting, the lack thereof.
In shades of his shockingly disrespectful treatment of Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (who also happens to be African American), Hannity pulled out quotes from the Ferguson grand jury transcript of black people testifying that Michael Brown charged Officer Darren Wilson. But Smiley wasn’t having any of it.
Smiley explained why race is an issue in these cases: that black people suffer from a presumption of guilt and that “too many parents in this country in 2014, still have to have ‘the talk’ with their black sons for how to save and protect their own lives.” You might notice that his argument was a similar one to Rep. Norton’s in that he was not accusing any police officer of killing Brown or Garner for being black but addressing the larger issue.
But just like with Norton, Hannity was completely uninterested. “Let me educate you,” he said at one point.
“Oh, educate me, OK,” Smiley shot back.
Later, Smiley confronted Hannity's tactics. “With all due respect, you have not shown anywhere near the kind of outrage… You don’t care about the death of Eric Garner, Sean. Not in the way you should.”
I believe what Smiley meant here was not that Hannity didn’t think Garner’s death was wrong but that he didn’t seem especially troubled by it. Hannity's interest seemed to be in scoring points about blacks being too race centered, not owning up to their own bad behavior and suggesting that New York’s cigarette taxes are the real culprit in Garner’s death.
Smiley touched a nerve. Hannity shouted, “You need to be educated! I say the cops never should have been there!”
“You see that kind of disrespect?” Smiley responded. He was referring to Hannity’s "You need to be educated" accusation. That, Smiley said, is “what I was talking about earlier when I said that too often our white brothers and sisters, even unwittingly, talk down to black people and come at them with the wrong approach.”
“No one’s talking down to anybody,” Hannity said, petulantly. “I say it to everybody, Tavis!”
Actually, I’m pretty sure Hannity doesn’t. In fact, the only other person I recall Hannity ever saying that to was an African American official from Ferguson. And as I said in my post about that segment, if this were another era and she had a been a man, Hannity would surely have called her “boy.”
If you can find other examples of Hannity saying it, please post them in the comments section.
But just when I was about to give Smiley a standing ovation, he changed the subject and started criticizing President Obama for not taking enough of a forceful stand on race. “Black folk don’t need lectures on Black Entertainment Television,” Smiley said.
I’ve got no problem with this kind of criticism of President Obama but Fox News is just not the place to do it. They'll take Smiley’s criticism and savor it with a “See, even African American people think Obama is bad for race relations” smirk. Surely, that can’t be the kind of consequence Smiley intended.
Watch it below.
And, by the way, Hannity did replay Smiley’s criticisms of Obama the next night and hold them up just like I predicted.
Keep in mind that Hannity’s take on Garner’s death is actually just to twist it to attack New York cigarette taxation policy. Smiley is correct that Hannity really doesn’t care about Garner’s death other than to fake empathy while using it as a stalking horse to attack cigarette taxes. (And I also note that here Hannity is attacking the same police he regularly upholds with as high a moral horse as he can build out of cards.) Smiley could have noted that Hannity’s real concern here is not for Garner but instead for himself – he doesn’t want people to think he’s out to attack EVERY unarmed black man killed by the police. For Hannity, Garner is a convenient cause for the moment, and a quick way to try to rebut the proper charges of racism he continues to earn. Hannity’s quick semantic defense of the police behavior with Garner is what gives it away. I wish that Smiley could have pointed this out, but he chose to cut to the chase and just say that Hannity didn’t care in the manner that he should – which sadly allowed Hannity to play the race card in reverse.
All of this devolved into a pointless back and forth between the guys, with both shouting over each other. That could have been avoided had Smiley given Hannity a moment and then specifically asked him about his conduct with Eleanor Holmes Norton and with the local official in Ferguson. Hannity would likely have ended the interview immediately rather than deal with that.
Smiley did properly note that Hannity’s condescending “let me educate you” nonsense is the sort of thing he doesn’t do with everyone. He certainly doesn’t do it with Ed Klein when Klein spouts the foulest rumors about President Obama or Bill Clinton. He didn’t do it when Dick Morris spouted the most idiotic projections about the 2012 election and was roundly discredited afterward. He doesn’t do it with Ann Coulter or with Michelle Malkin or with Brent Bozell. He doesn’t do it with Jay Sekulow or with Bill Cunningham or with David Limbaugh. But he does do it with Tavis Smiley.
I actually believe I have heard him use the “let me educate you” line with other guests beside Smiley, Norton and the Ferguson official. He’s also used it on Juan Williams and on Tamara Holder, if I’m not mistaken. In other words, he’s comfortable to use that terminology on someone who is black or female, who he thinks he can bully into submission. As I said in my prior post, it’s a pleasure to see someone like Smiley give it back to Hannity – and it was obvious that Hannity didn’t know how to handle it, other than to hide behind his supposed concern over Garner’s death.
What really sent this segment into a rancid area was Hannity’s decision to race bait Smiley with the bit about Louis Farrakhan where Hannity dared to demand that Smiley “apologize to the American People” for having Farrakhan on. And Smiley once again correctly waved off the nonsensical statement.
I agree with Ellen that Smiley’s challenge to President Obama at the end is likely misplaced on Hannity’s show – particularly the cheap shot about going on the Colbert Report. That’s the kind of thing that Hannity will eat out on for the next two years – “See, even Tavis Smiley thought the President was out of line!”
And BTW, f#*k Hannity.
The Stop Hannity Express says college dropout Hannocchio is the one who needs to be educated. He can well afford to enroll in college to get his journalism degree. His colleagues all have college degrees except him.
This Long Island Lolito is using Ferguson and Eric Garner to discredit President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.
Hannocchio is still bitter about Obama’s refusal to sit down for an interview with him. He can’t take rejection very well due to his low self-esteem. A problem he’s had most of his life.
NOTE TO HANNITY
A college drop such as yourself is in no position to educate anyone. Then again, if you did go back to school you probably would drop out again, or fail.