PBS Suspends Tavis Smiley Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

AP Smiley
The Associated Press

PBS has indefinitely suspended longtime talk show host Tavis Smiley over “troubling allegations” that he sexually harassed staffers, and retaliated against those who refused him.

Upon receiving several distressing allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with subordinates, and created a hostile work environment, PBS reached out to a law firm to investigate the claims.

A PBS spokesperson told the Daily News, “The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.”

While the spokesperson declined to go into deep detail regarding the complaints, sources told Variety that Smiley would use his position as one of the networks longest-serving talk show hosts, to entice his subordinates into having sex with him.

According to Variety, some witnesses even said they felt like the status of their employment hinged on their sexual relationship with Smiley. Other complaints against Smiley included verbal abuse, as well as threats and retaliation against any who complained.

According to Variety:

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.” Hyzagi described Smiley picking up a woman at the Orlando airport and bringing her along on a reporting trip as a “f*ck buddy”: alleged that Smiley had a romantic relationship with another producer; and quoted Smiley denigrating PBS executives.

Smiley has made his political leaning well-known in his ten-plus years at PBS.

It was on Smiley’s show in May of 2015, that Susan Sarandon blamed America’s homeless problem on former President Ronald Reagan. Smiley did not challenge Sarandon on that statement in any way.

On November of 2017, Smiley and Vagina Monologues creator Eve Ensler wondered why so many women voted for President Trump, given his alleged history of harassing women. Eventually, the two decided that women who voted for Trump were “self-loathing.”

Smiley has also had guests on his show to debate topics such as “white rage” and “white nationalism” in the age of Trump.

Smiley, who has been with PBS since 2004, could not be reached for comment. For PBS, the allegations against Smiley are not the first major, public sex scandal the network has had to deal with as of late. PBS fired Charlie Rose over allegations of sexual harassment in late November.