FLASHBACK: PBS’s Tavis Smiley Sneered That Christians Slaughter People ‘Every Day’

This past week saw the media repeatedly attempt to connect conservatives and Republicans to a racist gunman who allegedly murdered ten African Americans in Buffalo, New York. This is a common move for journalists and it’s not just related to politics. It was 12 years ago next week that PBS insisted that Christians are slaughtering people “every day.”

Host Tavis Smiley, who hadn’t yet been forced out of the network in disgrace, talked to author Ayaan Hirsi Ali about the threat of radical Islam. He got defensive about the whole subject, bringing up “Christians” like Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh: 

Here’s the exchange: 

Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, talking about radical Muslims: “Somehow, the idea got into their minds that to kill other people is a great thing to do and that they would be rewarded in the hereafter.”
Host Tavis Smiley: “But Christians do that every single day in this country.”
Ali: “Do they blow people up every day?”
Smiley: “Yes. Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that’s what Columbine is — I could do this all day long….There are folk in the Tea Party, for example, every day who are being recently arrested for making threats against elected officials, for calling people ‘nigger’ as they walk into Capitol Hill, for spitting on people. That’s within the political — that’s within the body politic of this country.”
— PBS’s Tavis Smiley, May 25, 2010.

Of course, Smiley is totally wrong about Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dyland Klebold. They were not Christians and, in fact, openly mocked Christianity. 

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Unrelated to all this, but Smiley was indefinitely suspended from PBS in 2017 after sexual misconduct allegations. According to PBS

…The investigation found credible allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates, sources said. Some witnesses interviewed expressed concern that their employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley. In general, witnesses described Smiley as creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment that went beyond what could be expected in a typical high-pressure work environment. Several expressed concerns about retaliation.

For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.

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