Tavis Smiley leads sexual harassment panel

In the category entitled, “what, really?” disgraced former PBS host Tavis Smiley, who was fired for chronic sexual harassment and assault, is planning to moderate a town hall tonight in Los Angeles.

The topic Smiley is moderating? Sexual harassment in the workplace, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

After you pick up your jaw off the ground, Smiley was indefinitely suspended last December after an investigation was launched into “credible” allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Yet about one month later, Smiley feels qualified to moderate a town hall about the very thing that got him booted from the nonprofit network.

The forum is titled “The Conversation: Women, Men and the Workplace” at Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 29.

The panel, which is set for a five-city tour including stops in Indianapolis, Chicago, New Orleans and Washington, was organized by Smiley’s company, Smiley Group, which describes itself as “a communications corporation established in support of human rights and related empowerment issues.”  

This is an interesting situation. Not only is Smiley accused (but not charged, to be fair, only fired) of sexual misconduct, many of the women under his charge allege they had sexual relationships with him because they were frightened that bruising his ego could cost them their jobs. This was not an accident, observers state.

At the time of his termination, Smiley went on the offensive, posting rebuttals on social media with righteous indignation. He vehemently asserted his innocence but has mysteriously grown silent recently about the issue and has not pressed forward legally, which is what most would do if they’ve been falsely accused of something that cost them substantial dividends and their reputation.

What was also conspicuous from these posts is that he kept saying, “I’ve never groped or exposed myself to anyone” as if those two specific behaviors are the only ways to sexually harass someone and put them in fear of losing their livelihood.

During a December, 2017, visit to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” he even romanticizes his behavior by saying, “You don’t know where your heart is going to lead you,” and later admitted that he’s even said things like, “I’d rather date you than have you work for me” to a producer on his show.

The organizers of Smiley’s “talk” say the event will include tips on what constitutes acceptable office behavior and how the workplace can better balance power and equality. Meanwhile, on Feb. 2, PBS will launch a five-part town hall series of their own about sexual harassment titled “#MeToo, Now What?”

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