Tavis Smiley Blasts PBS over Suspension: ‘Overreacted, Sloppy, Rush to Judgment’

JANUARY 09: Executive producer Neal Kendall (L) and host/executive producer Tavis Smiley speak during the 'Tavis Smiley' panel at the PBS portion of the 2011 Winter TCA press tour held at the Langham Hotel on January 9, 2011 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Frederick M. Brown/Getty

Tavis Smiley lashed out at PBS due to the “indefinite suspension” of his long-running show over “troubling allegations” of sexual harassment.

In a video and statement posted Wednesday night on Facebook, Smiley says he has “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,” he wrote, adding, “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.”

Smiley claims he had no idea he was being investigated by PBS until “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[.]” He says he then requested the opportunity to tell his side of the story, an interview that lasted three hours.

Not long after that, Smiley’s attorneys received “a formal letter invoking a contractual provision to not distribute my programming[.]”

Smiley closes his statement by saying that it time “for a real conversation in America, so men and women know how to engage in the workplace.”

PBS is not providing any details about Smiley’s alleged behavior beyond uncovering “multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.” But there were rumblings of trouble as far back as February:

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, a radical leftwinger who did not believe Barack Obama was far enough to the left, has also been highly critical of the “self-loathing” women who voted for President Trump, who is also facing harassment accusations he vehemently denies.

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