Draining of the Swamp: PBS suspends Tavis Smiley for multiple sexual misconduct

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 14:02:58 +0000


I knew it!

As with Charlie Rose, I had a visceral reaction to PBS late-night talk show host Tavis Smiley when I first saw him many years ago. For Rose, my reaction was an inexplicable revulsion; for Smiley, who was a light-weight compared to Rose, my reaction was “just” dislike.

See “Sexgate: CBS & PBS fired Charlie Rose after 8 women accused him of sexual misconduct, incl. walking around naked” .

Although Smiley is not a PBS employee, since 2004 PBS member stations have aired his half-hour interview program Tavis Smiley, while Public Radio International had distributed Smiley’s radio program, The Tavis Smiley Show, from 2005 to 2013.

And, as in the case of Charlie Rose, now comes news that Smiley has also been fumigated from PBS.

Daniel Holloway reports for Variety that PBS announced yesterday, Dec. 13, 2017, that:

“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 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.”

Sources close to the production told Variety that PBS hired attorney Sarah Taylor Wirtz of the firm MSK to oversee an investigation into Smiley’s behavior after receiving allegations of misconduct by Smiley’s misconduct. The investigation:

  • Took reports from 10 witnesses, a mix of men and women of different races and employment levels in Smiley’s organization, most of them former staffers.
  • Found credible allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates. Some witnesses interviewed expressed concern that their employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley. In general, witnesses described Smiley as creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment that went beyond what could be expected in a typical high-pressure work environment. Several expressed concerns about retaliation.

Please note that although Smiley’s sexual relationships appeared to be consensual, the fact that (1) they were with his authority subordinates, (2) who fear that their jobs depended on sex with him, qualifies Smiley’s conduct as on-job sexual harassment and a hostile work environment as defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

In a statement posted on Facebook, Smiley said:

“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.” Blah, blah, blah.

In a February piece in the Observer, Jacques Hyzagi, a former producer on Smiley’s television show, wrote that Smiley’s “misogyny is always creeping around, barely camouflaged by Midwestern good manners,” that he denigrated PBS executives, and that Smiley once picked up a woman at the Orlando airport and brought her along on a reporting trip as a “fuck buddy”.

See also:

H/t FOTM‘s MomOfIV


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