PBS suspends Tavis Smiley’s show amid misconduct allegations
NEW YORK — PBS has suspended distribution of “Tavis Smiley” amid “troubling allegations” against the news show’s namesake host.
The organization said Wednesday that it had hired an outside law firm to handle an investigation into the matter.
“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,” a statement from PBS reads.
A spokesperson for PBS provided further details on Thursday. “Following receipt of a complaint, PBS hired an independent law firm to conduct an investigation and we stand by its integrity. The totality of the investigation, which included Mr. Smiley, revealed a pattern of multiple relationships with subordinates over many years, and other conduct inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.”
Variety first reported PBS’ suspension of Smiley’s show.
In a statement posted on his official Facebook page Wednesday night, Smiley said he was “as shocked as anyone else by PBS’ announcement.”
“I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years,” he said. “Never. Ever. Never.”
Smiley, 53, is a longtime radio commentator, TV talk show host and author. His 30-minute interview show, “Tavis Smiley,” has aired weeknights on PBS since 2004.
He’s known for addressing social justice issues, including race relations and poverty.
In his statement, Smiley said that “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.”
He criticized PBS for its handling of the situation, saying he only learned about the investigation from former staffers and didn’t get a proper chance to defend himself.
“This has gone too far. And, I, for one, intend to fight back,” he said. “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’s written statement was accompanied by a video of him addressing the allegations.
PBS wasn’t immediately available for comment outside of regular office hours early Thursday.
PBS is the distributor for Smiley’s show, but it’s produced by TS Media, Smiley’s production company. Smiley is not employed by PBS.
TS Media could not be immediately reached Wednesday.
Smiley’s career includes a stint hosting a TV show on Black Entertainment Television in the 90s as well as a commentator at National Public Radio, ABC News, and CNN. In 2002, he became the first black man to host a show on NPR.
Other high-profile figures in public broadcasting have also faced allegations of misconduct in recent months.
PBS’ move to halt distribution of Smiley’s show comes less than a month after it terminated its contract with Charlie Rose, who was accused of harassing multiple women by making unwanted sexual advances.
Rose said in a statement at the time that he “deeply apologized” for what he admitted was “inappropriate behavior.”