Published: Fri, December 15, 2017
Culture&Arts | By Hattie Nash

PBS Suspends 'Tavis Smiley Show' While It Investigates Host's Alleged Misconduct

PBS Suspends 'Tavis Smiley Show' While It Investigates Host's Alleged Misconduct

PBS announced Wednesday night it had suspended its longtime late-night talker after looking into allegations of sexual conduct against its host.

Sources told Variety that the investigation found credible allegations that "Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates". Some of the witnesses felt that their employment status was linked to their relationships with Smiley, and said that Smiley created an abusive work environment.

Smiley said he was blindsided by the suspension and was made aware of the investigation into his behavior by former colleagues who said an investigator asked them about Smiley's conduct.

Smiley said PBS never notified him of the "so-called investigation" into what the network described as "multiple, credible allegations".

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Smiley's half-hour talk show started in 2004 and airs on PBS member stations.

According to Variety, the investigation was conducted by Sarah Taylor Wirtz of the venerable Los Angeles law firm MSK, who interviewed ten witnesses, primarily former staffers, about their interactions with Smiley.

"Let me also assure you, that I have never groped, inappropriately exposed myself, or coerced any colleague in the workplace ever in my 30-year career", he added.

While PBS did not disclose the nature of the allegations, Variety reported that they involved sexual relationships with co-workers.

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"Only after threatening a lawsuit", Smiley said, did investigators agree to sit down with him for an interview. And, I, for one, intend to fight back. "Nearly immediately following the meeting, this story broke in Varietyas 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", the statement continued.

It's time for a real conversation in America, so men and women know how to engage in the workplace.

Their "rush to judgment", he said, is "trampling on a reputation that I have spent an entire lifetime trying to establish". "Look at her, she's so stupid", he tells me, during our stop over from NY to Bismarck at Chick-fil-A in the Minneapolis airport Delta terminal after Blanca had left us at the counter and walked toward the gate.

Smiley is the latest broadcast host to face misconduct allegations in recent weeks.

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