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PBS Late-Night Host Tavis Smiley Suspended
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Tavis Smiley

Summary: PBS suspended their late-night talk show after misconduct allegations were made against him.

PBS suspended their late-night talk show hosted by Tavis Smiley when allegations of sexual misconduct were raised against him. The public broadcaster said, “Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of ‘Tavis Smiley,’ produced by TS Media, an independent production company.”

  
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PBS explained, “PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley. This investigation included an interview with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standard of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision.”

Variety first reported the suspension after sources told them that PBS reached out to attorney Sarah Taylor Wirtz of law firm MSK to conduct the investigation into the talk-show host’s behavior when they received complaints about his conduct. The sources claim that MSK took 10 reports from witnesses, of whom were a mixture of men and woman of different races and positions within Smiley’s organization. Most of the witnesses were former staffers.

The investigation uncovered credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving sexual relationships between Smiley and several subordinates. Some of the witnesses were concerned about the connection between their employment status and having a sexual relationship with Smiley plus fears of retaliation from Smiley. They claim he fostered a verbally abusive and threatening environment that was more than just a normal high-pressure work environment.

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Smiley responded to the allegations on Facebook stating, “I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth. To be clear, I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years.”

Smiley has been the host of his current 30-minute show “Tavis Smiley” since 2004. The show airs weeknights on PBS stations. His company, TS Media, Inc. produces the show in Los Angeles. He is not employed by PBS nor are any of this staff members. The show has received four NAACP Image Awards. Smiley first rose to fame in the mid-90s when he was the host of “BET Tonight,” an evening public affairs program featured on the African American-focused cable channel.



In February, an Observer piece by Jacques Hyzagi, a former producer of Smiley’s television show, stated that his “misogyny is always creeping around, barely camouflaged by Midwestern good manners.” She went on to describe an incident when Smiley picked up a woman from the Orlando airport to serve as his “f*** buddy” on a reporting trip. She also claims that he had a romantic relationship with another producer and degraded PBS executives.

Smiley is allegedly in a development deal with Warner Bros. Television. One of the projects being developed is an adaptation of his book “Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days.”

This is not the first time PBS took action against an accused sexual predator. Just weeks ago, PBS made a similar announcement against Charlie Roses’ interview show once he was accused of sexual harassment.

What do you think all of these accused celebrities finding themselves out of jobs will do now? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To read more about other TV hosts connected to sexual misconduct as either the accuser or accused, see these articles:

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org



 

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