Tavis Smiley To ‘Fight Back’ After Show Is Suspended by PBS Over Sexual Harassment Allegations
After having his talk show abruptly pulled from the air by PBS, veteran broadcaster Tavis Smiley issued a statement and corresponding video on Facebook revealing that he plans to take action against the network.
PBS suspended its distribution of the Tavis Smiley show on Wednesday, citing “multiple, credible allegations” of sexual misconduct against the 53-year-old TV host, reports Variety. Smiley’s namesake show had been distributed by PBS since 2004 and aired around the country.
According to a PBS spokesperson, the network hired an outside law firm to conduct an investigation “immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley.” Smiley is accused of having “had sexual relationships with multiple staff members” and subordinates, some of which feared that “their employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley.”
Smiley, who says he first learned about his show’s suspension from the Variety report, accused the network of rushing to judgment and tarnishing his reputation. “PBS overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation,” he wrote on Facebook. “This has gone too far. And, I, for one, intend to fight back.”
Smiley’s suspension comes less than a month after PBS decided to part ways with Charlie Rose after eight different women accused him of sexual misconduct.
Read Smiley’s full statement below.
On the eve of the 15th season and 3,000th episode of my nightly talk show, I was as shocked as anyone else by PBS’ announcement today. Variety knew before I did.
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.
Never. Ever. Never.
PBS launched a so-called investigation of me without ever informing me. I learned of the investigation when former staffers started contacting me to share the uncomfortable experience of receiving a phone call from a stranger asking whether I had ever done anything to make them uncomfortable, and if they could provide other names of persons to call. After 14 seasons, that’s how I learned of this inquiry, from the streets.
Only after being threatened with a lawsuit, did PBS investigators reluctantly agree to interview me for three hours.
If having a consensual relationship with a colleague years ago is the stuff that leads to this kind of public humiliation and personal destruction, heaven help us. The PBS investigators refused to review any of my personal documentation, refused to provide me the names of any accusers, refused to speak to my current staff, and refused to provide me any semblance of due process to defend myself against allegations from unknown sources. Their mind was made up. Almost immediately following the meeting, this story broke in Variety as an “exclusive.” Indeed, I learned more about these allegations reading the Variety story than the PBS investigator shared with me, the accused, in our 3 hour face to face meeting.
My attorneys were sent a formal letter invoking a contractual provision to not distribute my programming, and that was it.
Put simply, PBS overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation, which led to a rush to judgment, and trampling on a reputation that I have spent an entire lifetime trying to establish.
This has gone too far. And, I, for one, intend to fight back.
It’s time for a real conversation in America, so men and women know how to engage in the workplace. I look forward to actively participating in that conversation.