PBS's late-night talk show Tavis Smiley was suspended late Wednesday after "multiple, credible allegations" of misconduct emerged about the popular host/producer.
PBS sent a statement to USA TODAY declaring that the public broadcaster had "indefinitely suspended" distribution of Tavis Smiley, produced by Smiley's independent production company, TS Media.
"PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley," the statement read. "This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision.”
Smiley has not responded to a request for comment from USA TODAY, where he is an occasional contributor to the opinion section.
PBS declined to discuss the nature of the allegations.
But Variety reported, quoting unnamed sources, that the investigation found credible allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates, and that some believed their jobs depended on a sexual relationship with Smiley. Also, Smiley was accused of creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment and employees feared retaliation.
Smiley hosted Tavis Smiley, a half-hour interview program that premiered in 2004 and airs weeknights on PBS stations.
As the former host of BET Tonight With Tavis Smiley on Black Entertainment Television, Smiley became known as "black America's favorite talk show host," according to National Public Radio, and he has been one of the few black hosts on PBS.
Smiley is the second late-night host on PBS to lose his spot on public television, following the derailing of Charlie Rose's career on PBS and CBS following allegations of sexual misconduct.
"PBS has terminated its relationship with Charlie Rose and canceled distribution of his programs," PBS said in a statement at the time. "PBS expects all the producers we work with to provide a workplace where people feel safe and are treated with dignity and respect."
Both Smiley and Rose have been caught up in a national deluge of sexual harassment and assault allegations that have felled powerful men in entertainment, media, politics, business and fashion in the last two months.
Last year, Tavis and co-author David Ritz published Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days just days before the seventh anniversary of the superstar’s death. The non-fiction book takes a novelistic approach, speculating on how Jackson feels, what he's thinking, and most pointedly, how he cannot sleep in the 16 weeks leading up to his death.
Smiley has a deal with Warner Bros. Television to develop the book, along with J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot, into an “event television series.”