PBS Suspends Tavis Smiley Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Tavis Smiley | Frederick M. Brown  Getty Images

Tavis Smiley | Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

Tavis Smiley is the latest big name to be accused of sexual misconduct, and now PBS has yanked his longtime late night talk show.

Variety reports the public broadcaster hired attorney Sarah Taylor Wirtz to oversee an investigation into Smiley's behavior following claims of sexual misconduct. Some witnesses reportedly said they anxious their employment was linked to the status of those relationships, and that they feared retaliation.

PBS vice president for corporate communications Jennifer R. Byrne, said that the company had used an outside law firm to investigate allegations that were levied against Smiley. It said it interviewed witnesses and Smiley and uncovered charges of conduct "that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS". Hyzagi wrote that "Tavis' misogyny is always creeping around, barely camouflaged by Midwestern good manners".

In a bombshell announcement that broke on our sister site Variety on December 13, it read "Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of Tavis Smiley, produced by TS Media, an independent production company", the public broadcaster said.

The source said, the investigators found that Smiley had sexually involved with several subordinates.


His nightly program has aired on PBS since 2004.

Smiley said he has "the utmost respect for all women" and intends "to fight back" against the allegations.

"I learned of the investigation when former staffers started contacting me to share the uncomfortable experience of receiving a phone call from a stranger asking whether I had ever done anything to make them uncomfortable, and if they could provide other names of persons to call", Smiley added.

Smiley gained national attention in 1996 as a blunt voice on politics and racial issues on the nationally syndicated radio show "Tom Joyner Morning Show" and as a host and executive producer of "BET Tonight".

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