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Tavis Smiley Sues PBS For Firing Him Over ‘Trumped Up’ Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Tavis Smiley, a now-disgraced talk-show host who was released from his PBS contract due to sexual misconduct allegations, is suing the network for supposedly breaching the agreement between the two parties when he was fired in December.

This suit makes Smiley — who has maintained his claim to innocence — the first notable media figure to take legal action against claims of misconduct during the #MeToo era, which began with the Harvey Weinstein reports in October 2017.

PBS alleges the host has been hit with “multiple, credible allegations,” per the Washington Post.

“I’ve spent the bulk of my career in public media, so filing a lawsuit against PBS was the last thing I wanted to do. But litigation seems to be the only way to get at the truth,” Smiley said today.

Smiley has defended himself by saying claims that he pursued inappropriate relationships with subordinates — that allegedly feared being fired — are baseless and “trumped up,” despite admitting to dating employees of his self-run company.

The lawsuit adds a new layer of defense, as Smiley claims PBS’ termination of his contract was actually due to content disagreements and racial disputes — not misconduct. This counter-attack, which PBS vice president Jennifer Rankin Byrne referred to as “meritless,” does appear questionable since the network agreed to resign Smiley in November 2017 after distributing his show for 14 years.

[images via screengrab]

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Caleb Ecarma is a reporter at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter here: @calebecarma