Tavis Smiley: New PBS Report Details Alleged Sexual Harassment, Retaliatory Firings by Former Talk Show Host

tavis smiley fired sexual harassment PBS report

PBS suspended Tavis Smiley’s self-titled talk show in 2017, citing “multiple, credible” accusations of sexual impropriety, harassment and abuse. Disturbing new details about that alleged misconduct surfaced Thursday via a report chronicling the network’s newly unsealed investigation.

The report, conducted by an external investigator hired by PBS and brought to light by our sister site Deadline, was made public as part of Smiley‘s continuing efforts to sue the network for breach-of-contract. PBS is countersuing, seeking $1.9 million in production advances.

The document outlines several incidents in which Smiley allegedly engaged in sexual harassment or abuse, including:

* Grabbing a woman’s buttocks during a 2000 photo shoot, then later purposefully touching her backside with his penis

* Asking a staffer about her bra size and then offering to take her to lingerie shop Victoria’s Secret at The Grove. When the woman eventually was laid off from the show, the report states, she was told she “knew too much” about the host’s activities.

* Having a consensual sexual relationship with a producer whose job was terminated when others found out

You can read the newly released documents in full here.

Smiley has denied all, stating that he ended any consensual relationships he had with staffers a decade before the first allegations. In turn, he has accused PBS of racial bias. “Tragically, it is only because I sued PBS that I know anything at all about this case, save what PBS president and CEO, Paula Kerger, has coughed up in her myriad interviews and speeches,” he wrote in December 2018. “If I had just accepted my fate and gone away quietly, I would have no knowledge of how badly this case was bungled and biased from the very beginning.”

On Thursday, a judge turned down Smiley’s request to have PBS’ countersuit dismissed, citing that some of the recent alleged misconduct fell within the time period of his most recent contract.

When TVLine reached out to Smiley’s spokesman for a statement, he pointed us to a tweet of Smiley’s that states, “A weak case you play in the press, a strong case you play out in a court of law. I look forward to my day in court February 10, which I have finally been granted, after 2 years of fighting.”

Smiley’s self-titled talk show debuted on PBS in 2004, featuring in-depth guest interviews and discussion of current events. He also hosted a radio program for NPR and a long-running talk show on BET, starting in the mid-1990s. His suspension from PBS came about a month after the network suspended talk-show Charlie Rose, who also faced multiple accounts of sexual misconduct and harassment and was eventually officially fired at both PBS and CBS, where he co-hosted CBS This Morning.

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