Tavis Smiley suspended from PBS while being investigated for sexual misconduct

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When I was snowed in last weekend, I watched a lot of TV. It was like the “perfect storm” for me to watch sh-t that I normally don’t watch, what with the actual snowstorm and the tennis season being over for the year. I ended up discovering that I have MTV Classic, which is awesome, and I also saw that Tavis Smiley is still on PBS. I watched Smiley interview someone for a moment and I idly thought to myself “I wonder if he’s next.” It wasn’t any specific vibe other than “this is the new reality.” Every man is suspect. Every man on television could be outed as a predator at any moment. Well, guess what?

PBS has suspended late-night talk show “Tavis Smiley” amid misconduct allegations against its host and namesake.

“Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of ‘Tavis Smiley,’ produced by TS Media, an independent production company,” the public broadcaster said. “PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley. This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision.”

Sources close to the production told Variety that PBS hired attorney Sarah Taylor Wirtz of the firm MSK to oversee an investigation into Smiley’s behavior after receiving allegations of misconduct by Smiley, who hosts and produces the talk show. Wirtz declined Variety‘s request for comment. According to sources, MSK took reports from 10 witnesses, a mix of men and women of different races and employment levels in Smiley’s organization, most of them former staffers.

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.

In a statement posted Thursday evening on Facebook, Smiley said, “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.”

[From Variety]

I’ve said this before, but I was raised in an NPR and PBS family. My parents were huge supporters and consumers of public broadcasting, and to this day, I love a good Independent Lens documentary or PBS Nature program or a bitchin’ episode of Frontline, not to mention my undying affection for Masterpiece programming. I even watched The Charlie Rose Show, for the love of God. It never would have occurred to me that public broadcasting would be Pervert Central, from NPR News executive Mike Oreskes to Charlie Rose to Garrison Keillor and now Tavis Smiley. Gwen Ifill is shaking her head at all of this bullsh-t from her cloud in heaven, I swear to God. If Finding Your Roots’ Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is next, I honestly don’t know what I will do.

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Photos courtesy of Getty.

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22 Responses to “Tavis Smiley suspended from PBS while being investigated for sexual misconduct”

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  1. INeedANap says:

    What depresses me is that the reaction of a lot of men is “you can’t even look at a woman without being accused of assault” and “men need to protect themselves from false allegations.”

    This is why I don’t think much will change. For many men, their first reaction is to get defensive and empathize with the accused, not to think about the culture that created this, or to worry for their female and male colleagues that may have ben victims.

    I just don’t know, y’all.

    • HK9 says:

      People who react like that tend to have things to hide. When people report things it’s for a reason. Assault is not flirting, or complimenting people and if you don’t know that is it’s because you don’t want to know.

      I work with men all day everyday and none of them have ever said this and do you know why, it’s because they behave like a civilized human being with everyone.

      • MousyB says:

        Exactly. Pretty much every man I’ve spoken to about this has said ‘good riddance they need to go and/or what horrible behavior have I observed and need to speak up about’. If a guy says something like ‘this will be a man witch hunt’ or ‘why didnt they just go to the police’ im highly suspect…

      • INeedANap says:

        Agreed. I work with mostly men and I’d say 80% of them have been supportive. The one who has been most vocal in his rape apologia has also sent myself and numerous other women in the office lewd photos on his work phone, and threatening messages when we took it to HR (who did nothing). We…are not surprised.

    • BlueSky says:

      What bugs me is the whole “I have the utmost respect for women” Newsflash a$$hole, if you are using your position to abuse and coerce women into a sexual relationship then YOU DO NOT RESPECT WOMEN!

    • QueenB says:

      Exactly, also HK9. Men who question womens words or talk about false allegations are predators themselves. They are trying to get ahead of being reported themselves. Never trust any man who does not believe women.

  2. Eliza says:

    I wonder how long these credible accusations have been sitting in HR?

    Let’s face it, companies are only taking action now because they’re trying to get ahead of it as a company and look like they’re in the right. But it’s just one lamb to slaughter instead of all, they all knew and did nothing for years.

  3. Renee2 says:

    I had the same thought, that something might come out about him.

  4. Sandy says:

    Gwen Ifill is dead????

  5. Carmen says:

    I hate that POS. He was extremely disrespectful and spiteful toward President Obama because he expected Obama to give him some high position in his administration which he never got.

  6. adastraperaspera says:

    It hurts my heart to know Gwen Ifill is gone and that so many abusers are still here. I don’t know how Judy Woodruff goes on day after day reporting all this horrible news alone on PBS Newshour. I knew most workplaces were hostile for women, but I really had no idea it was this bad. And I say that as someone who experienced harassment myself.

  7. Lila says:

    All I have to say today, about this ongoing issue ,is there is going to be some great job openings in media for some women in 2018.

  8. IlsaLund says:

    Travis always struck me as a conceited blowhard. Not surprising at all.

  9. BJ says:

    I am always curious what these guys like Tavis and Matt Lauer( most recent media guys) were thinking when they covered stories about Charlie Rose,Bill O Reilly,Mark Halpern,etc(other guys in the new media). Were they thinking ,”Will I be next?” or are they in denial about their inappropriate conduct?

    • osito says:

      I had the same thought! Smiley recently interviewed Gretchen Carlson on his NPR show. The interview, of course, centered on her book about the abuse she survived from Roger Ailes, and he asked some sort of skeevey “devil’s advocate” type of question. My husband and I were both listening, and fairly simultaneously reacted with a “You too, huh, bruh?” It was disheartening, and now we can see how revealing it was of his mindset as well. Ugh.

      • Melanie says:

        This! He was a total jerk to her. Questioning why women don’t come forward as whistleblowers. Completely tone deaf, but in hind sight, I get it. He’s always been creepy to me.

      • I Choose Me says:

        Exactly! If a man’s first reaction is to get defensive or play devil’s advocate, that tells me all I need to know.

  10. Loo says:

    I am A-Okay with people criticizing wrong things Obama did but Tavis Smiley seemed obsessed with holding Obama to standards that no President could reach. He was obsessed with attacking Obama at every turn and that bothered the heck out of me. He seemed very egotistical to me. I have no trouble believing that he was a bully and sexual assaulter/harasser behind the scenes.

  11. Lisa says:

    Ah fuck!!! I literally just wondered about him the other day when I flipped past his show. He’s someone I was on the fence about and this just helped me decide where I stand.