Tavis Smiley Slams PBS, Says Network Will Accuse Him of ‘Financial Impropriety’ in Open Letter

“My integrity is all I have left, and I look forward to my day in court,” fired PBS host says

Last Updated: October 11, 2018 @ 9:36 PM

In an open letter provided to TheWrap, former PBS host Tavis Smiley said the network will be accusing him of “misappropriating public funds” in the upcoming trial for the lawsuit Smiley filed in February.

“I said last December that all I wanted was the truth,” Smiley said. “I am still in search of it.”

Smiley said that PBS has refused to cooperate with requests to see the findings of an independent investigation into the accusations that led to his firing, and accused it of stalling, intimidation, coercion, and of trashing “my reputation in the media.”

“Now I am hearing that they will be falsely accusing me of misappropriating public funds,’ he said.

In the letter, Smiley said neither accusations of sexual misconduct nor financial impropriety are true, and that “the real misuse of public monies is the millions of dollars PBS is spending to litigate this matter.”

PBS dropped Smiley’s late-night interview program, “Tavis Smiley,” in December over what it said were “multiple, credible allegations” of workplace misconduct. PBS later said that a subsequent investigation revealed “detailed accounts” of “inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct.”

Smiley filed a lawsuit against PBS in February. A PBS spokesperson said at the time that the suit was “meritless” in a statement to TheWrap, and called it an attempt “to distract the public from his pattern of sexual misconduct in the workplace.”

Representatives for PBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap about Smiley’s latest statement.

Read his full letter below.

Ten months ago, Wednesday, December 13, 2017, PBS pulled the plug on my nightly talk show amid a sexual
misconduct probe, saying that it had “uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent withthe values and standards of PBS.”

I immediately responded in a series of national television appearances denying these false allegations, and
eventually had to file a lawsuit in February against the place that I had called home for almost 15 years. In March, PBS fired back with a frivolous countersuit, and the litigation is ongoing as we prepare for our trial date in D.C. Superior Court.

I said last December that all I wanted was the truth. I am still in search of it. Almost a year later, PBS has still not turned over a single page of the findings of its so-called “independent investigation,” on which they based their decision to cancel my program.

PBS has tried every trick in the book; stall, intimidate, coerce, and trash my reputation in the media. Since my initial interviews, I have kept my powder dry, preferring to stay quiet and litigate my case in court, not in the media.

The judge in this case has allowed PBS to designate a large number of documents as “confidential” under
protective order, but I am more than confident that when this case goes to trial, and you discover what I already know, you will be gobsmacked by the actions and inactions of a public media entity that prides itself on being “the most trusted network in America.”

And, they keep misfiring. Now I am hearing that they will be falsely accusing me of misappropriating public funds.

A case that started out being about sexual misconduct has now turned into a case of financial impropriety. Neitheraccusation is true. But desperate to find any breach of contract claim, PBS hired an outside accounting firm to conduct a months-long audit of the financial records for my television show covering multiple years, and not a cent is unaccounted for over those seasons. Never a single infraction, as PBS accountants gave us a clean bill of financial health, year after year. I take the public trust seriously. In truth, the real misuse of public monies is the millions of dollars PBS is spending to litigate this matter.

To whatever extent I have flourished professionally in my broadcast career, it’s because I have tried to be my
authentic self, even when it has cost me supporters and sponsors.

My integrity is all I have left, and I look forward to my day in court.

To those who have left messages, emailed, sent letters or even called my office, thank you for the encouragement and your continued support.