PBS Suspends Distribution of Tavis Smiley Indefinitely After a Sexual Misconduct Investigation

PBS has suspended distribution of late-night talk show Tavis Smiley after an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against host Tavis Smiley, Variety reports. Smiley has denied the allegations. The network released the following statement:

Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of Tavis Smiley, produced by TS Media, an independent production company. PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations against Mr. Smiley. This investigation included interviews with multiple 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.


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. Although Wirtz declined to comment, Variety reports that sources close to the investigation said that she had uncovered credible claims that Smiley had had sexual relationships with more than one subordinate, that witnesses were concerned Smiley was tying employment status to sexual relationships with him, and that they feared retaliation from the host. Additionally, Variety reports, witnesses said that Smiley had created “a verbally abusive and threatening environment” for his employees.

Smiley responded on Facebook, posting a video and statement denying claims of any sexual misconduct and criticizing PBS for the manner in which it conducted its investigation:

Words From His Past



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.

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. …

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.


Before 2008 election and campaign of then Senator Barack Obama, I was a great fan of Tavis. Tavis was at that time our top spokesperson for the Urban community with a vast following. He was conducting yearly summit conferences with leaders from various parts of our community gathering ideas for improving our plight within the toxic environment of the times. I would guess that Tavis had let the power of his stature take him to underestimate that power. He felt that Obama had to kiss his ring because Tavis Smiley had the pulse of this community. Oh how he was wrong, and that initiative by his own arrogance eventually caused him to lose that hold on our community. Reducing he and Dr. Cornel West to the back from which he has never recovered. It is really a shame that today he has been named as another sexual harassment candidate. Taking his place in a long line of accused sexual harassment perpetrators. Does the urban community believe these accusations??? Possibly??? So Tavis has now lost the last vestige of his financial security that came from his nightly interview PBS program, viewed by his last audience of upper class white and a small segment of our affluent community.

E. Bishop III, The Money Connection.Com

“Following The Money and Urban News”

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