Tavis Smiley took to Tucker Carlson’s show Monday to warn PBS if it does not “fix this,” and he sues over network’s decision to suspend distribution of his program, “millions of taxpayer dollars are going to be spent by PBS defending itself.”
“And I don’t think taxpayers want their money spent that way,” Smiley said pointedly to Fox News Channel viewers.
Smiley told Carlson he does not know what are the exact allegations made against him by former staffers on his show. PBS announced it has suspended distribution of his program indefinitely after looking into allegations of sexual misconduct against its host.
Carlson understandably wondered then what Smiley talked about during that three-hour meeting with PBS reps. Making the media rounds as he argued his side of the situation, Smiley has said PBS reps met with him for that length of time, only after his reps threatened to sue if they did not. That, Smiley said, after weeks of being put off by PBS when he asked to meet with them to discuss the allegations. Smiley said he contacted PBS after hearing through the grapevine about the investigation.
“What did you talk about?” Carlson asked of the meeting.
“Vague questions,” Smiley explained – “Might you ever have done this?” stuff.
“They’ve done a sloppy investigation and something needs to be done to fix this,” he added.
He has acknowledged he’s had romantic relations with employees over 30 years in the business but insisted they were consensual and that he’s guilty, at worst, of bad judgement.
“It does not rise to the level of this kind of public shame, this kind of public humiliation, this kind of wrongful termination, and this kind of personal destruction,” he argued.
“What do you think this is about?” Carlson wondered. “Why did PBS do this?”
Smiley answered coyly that when something “like this” hits the media, “there’s always more to the story than meets the eye,” adding he does not want to say much more because “my attorneys are hard at work.”
“There’s a lot more behind this,” Smiley insinuated.
“It’s strange when you finally get a three-hour meeting, within an hour and a half after that meeting ends, they pull the plug on the show. Clearly, when we went into that three-hour meeting, PBS already had made up its mind,” he blasted.
“So, about 90 minutes after this meeting ended, we got the letter that they were…indefinitely suspending my program. And 12 minutes after that, this exclusive story broke in Variety. So, I ask: How does an how exclusive story break 12 minutes after we were informed that the plug is being pulled?”
“And, in that story, there are quotes from unnamed sources, presumably inside PBS – ‘persons close to the investigation’ is the phrase they used,” Smiley continued, warming to his theme. “They had enough time to research my background, so there is background material about me in the story. There are links they’ve placed in the story. I assume an editor looked at this before it went online. But, all of that was done inside of 12 minutes.”
“Now you tell me whether or not there is an agenda here,” Smiley said, resting his case.
Prohibiting office dating was not reasonable, Smiley told Carlson, “Let’s face it, nobody is working 40 hour weeks anymore,” putting the work week at something more like 60 to 80 hours a week. “Where else are you going to meet people?”
“Clearly there are millions of Americans who met their spouse at work. The problem is we’re starting to criminalize legitimate relationships between consenting adults. And that’s a real problem for me,” Smiley said.
“And if this can’t be resolved some other way, and if this does, in fact, end up in court, millions of taxpayer dollars are going to be spent by PBS defending themselves and I don’t think taxpayers want their money spent that way,” he added pointedly.