Tavis Smiley Accuses PBS of ‘Sham’ Investigation Ahead of Trial

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Talk show host, author, and political commentator Tavis Smiley speaks at a press conference at the National Press Club, January 12, 2012, in Washington, DC. (Credit: Albert H. Teich)

Tavis Smiley says he plans to defend his name in court against the sexual misconduct allegations that prompted PBS to cancel his long-running talk show, Tavis Smiley.

Smiley made the announcement on Tuesday, Feb. 4, in a lengthy Facebook post he titled “Why I Am Going to Trial Against PBS.”

To emphasize his point, Smiley quoted a line from the 1996 film The Crucible, stating:  “Because it is my name. Because I cannot have another in my life.”

Related Story: Tavis Smiley Accused of Extensive Sexual Abuse in PBS Investigative Report

The case is scheduled to go to court on Feb. 10. Smiley admits his case against PBS “is not a matter of life and death,” but insists it has the potential to “ruin” his life if he doesn’t fight back.

“The false accusations that PBS leveled against me over two years ago, have threatened to ruin me professionally, economically, emotionally, and even spiritually,” he writes. “Our reputations are the most valuable things we own, and they have attempted to trash mine beyond redemption.”

PBS canceled Tavis Smiley, and parted ways with Smiley and his production company in late 2017. In response, he sued the network in February 2018. PBS has since countersued him and says it wants $1.9 million in production advances returned.

A report by a PBS external investigator unsealed last month detailed allegations that Smiley had sex with subordinates and guests on his show; allegedly engaged in inappropriate touching; made unwanted sexual comments; and was verbally abusive.

Among the claims in the report, a male employee alleged he heard Smiley say he was a “titty man.” The report also alleges Smiley told a female producer “wow you got big ole titties for a producer of public radio.”

However in his post today, Smiley insisted the investigation that brought forth those claims was a “sham.”

“The truth is that PBS conducted a sham investigation and fired me based on arbitrary and esoteric ‘standards and values’ that were certainly not applied evenly to the talent throughout the organization,” he writes. Smiley also insists PBS investigators “relied on false statements.”

Read Smiley’s statement on the case below.