PBS suspends ‘Tavis Smiley’ show amid allegations of sexual misconduct
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PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley’s late-night interview show has been suspended by the network effective Wednesday, amid allegations of sexual misconduct by the host and author.
In a statement, PBS, which distributes Smiley’s critically acclaimed interview show to public television affiliates across the country, including WTTW-Channel 11 in Chicago, 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.”
Updated Dec. 14:
In a statement early Thursday, Smiley denied all allegations via video statement on his Facebook page, chastising PBS for launching the investigation without informing him, and finally interviewing him for a three-hour period only after Smiley’s attorneys threatened legal action. ” 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 says in the video.
Smiley also noted in the statement that he did have a “consensual relationship with a colleague” years ago. He called the investigation “biased and sloppy” and vows 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,” Smiley added.
Sources told Variety that the investigation found credible allegations that “Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates.” Smiley’s program premiered on PBS in 2004 and was awarded numerous NAACP Image Awards for outstanding news series and outstanding news/information series.
The “Smiley” show suspension comes on the heels of the network’s similar detachment from Charlie Rose’s late-night program in November, following sexual harassment allegations made against Rose.