PBS, PRI Host Tavis Smiley Temporarily Severs Ties With Wells Fargo Over Subprime Mortgage Charges

Sep 21, 2009  •  Post A Comment

PBS and PRI host Tavis Smiley for the moment is severing his ties to Wells Fargo & Co., owner of Wells Fargo Bank and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc., following charges that the company steered African American borrowers into expensive subprime mortgages, reports Richard Prince’s Journal-isms.com.

Wells Fargo was a sponsor of Smiley’s Public Radio International show and an underwriter of his "State of the Black Union" conference, which airs on C-SPAN. Smiley distributed Wells Fargo materials at the event.

Smiley told Journal-isms, "I cut everything off with Wells Fargo," adding that the move cost "a lot of money.” Smiley said he severed the ties until the charges could be resolved.

–Elizabeth Jensen


  1. Another case of “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” in this country. People are so quick to point blame before they know what actually happened. Why are we not “severing ties” against the government that forced the banks to offer these sub-prime mortgages. I don’t see anyone cutting ties with the US government over unconstitutional activity, no one holding them accountable. As Americans we need to start taking responsibility for our own actions, and not expect the government to take care of us all the time. Mr. Smiley, why not wait to see what the facts are before you go burn a bridge with a huge sponsor. Don’t the people that work for you need to get paid?

  2. I don’t think this is a case of “Guilty until proven innocent” at all. Tavis Smiley pitched for Wells Fargo during the height of the sub-prime blood-letting. He had a obligation to provide for follow-up on the many workshop participants who went to Wells Fargo because of his encouragement. He should have wanted to know, 1) Were any of his workshop attendees going to Wells Fargo; 2) Were they getting served (obtaining loans); and 3) What kind of terms were they getting from Wells Fargo. Smiley, above all others, knows the historic redlining of black banking consumers in terms of loans and terms of agreement. He should have had in place a monitoring system precisely because he knew most blacks get ripped off. To act innocent now belies the very sophistication of his expertise and reputation as a professional financial consultant. We now know for example, Joel Olsteen, pastor of the largest Christian Church in America, Houston’s Lakewood Church with 40,000 members that is over 60% African American and Latino, himself preached that congregation members should pursue housing loans because God wanted them to have those homes and Olsteen even accepted a sub-prime loan and told the congregation God provided him with a house he didn’t expect to be able to get, and thousands of his black and brown members followed suit and got sub-prime loans. Is it all that surprising that Tavis Smiley, too, would preach a prosperity gospel (however secular his mode) and lead others down the same path to ruin? Tavis Smiley is dirty on this. To claim he didn’t have a clue until a small newspaper in Washington,D.C. bit the bullet and exposed Wells Fargo is disingenuous at best, a stankin’ lie at worst. And yes, the entire federal government should be indicted, too, for collusion on the greatest single destruction of African American wealth since slavery. Et tu, Tavis?

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