- Conduct ‘Inconsistent’ With PBS Values, Standards
- . . . Smiley Replies: ‘I, for One, Intend to Fight Back’
- Omarosa Fired, Escorted from the White House
- Omarosa Says She Has ‘Quite a Story to Tell’
- Media Caught by Hoax on D.C. Team Name Change
- Record Number of Journalists Imprisoned for Work
“PBS has suspended late-night talk show ‘Tavis Smiley’ amid misconduct allegations against its host and namesake,” Daniel Holloway reported Wednesday for Variety.
“ ‘Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of “Tavis Smiley,” produced by TS Media, an independent production company,’ the public broadcaster said. ‘PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley. 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.’
“Sources close to the production told Variety that PBS hired attorney Sarah Taylor Wirtz of the firm MSK to oversee an investigation into Smiley’s behavior after receiving allegations of misconduct by Smiley, who hosts and produces the talk show. Wirtz declined Variety‘s request for comment.
“According to sources, MSK took reports from 10 witnesses, a mix of men and women of different races and employment levels in Smiley’s organization, most of them former staffers.
“Representatives for Smiley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The investigation found credible allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates, sources said. Some witnesses interviewed expressed concern that their employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley. In general, witnesses described Smiley as creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment that went beyond what could be expected in a typical high-pressure work environment. Several expressed concerns about retaliation. . . .”
Holloway also wrote, “In a February piece in the Observer, Jacques Hyzagi, a former producer on Smiley’s television show, wrote that Smiley’s ‘misogyny is always creeping around, barely camouflaged by Midwestern good manners.’ Hyzagi described Smiley picking up a woman at the Orlando airport and bringing her along on a reporting trip as a ‘fuck buddy’; alleged that Smiley had a romantic relationship with another producer; and quoted Smiley denigrating PBS executives. . . .”
. . . Smiley Replies: ‘I, for One, Intend to Fight Back’
Tavis Smiley posted this response on Facebook overnight early Thursday:
“On the eve of the 15th season and 3,000th episode of my nightly talk show, I was as shocked as anyone else by PBS’ announcement today. Variety knew before I did.
“I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth. To be clear, I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years.
“Never. Ever. Never.
“PBS launched a so-called investigation of me without ever informing me. I learned of the investigation when former staffers started contacting me to share the uncomfortable experience of receiving a phone call from a stranger asking whether, I had ever done anything to make them uncomfortable, and if they could provide other names of persons to call. After 14 seasons, that’s how I learned of this inquiry, from the streets.
“Only after being threatened with a lawsuit, did PBS investigators reluctantly agree to interview me for three hours.
“If having a consensual relationship with a colleague years ago is the stuff that leads to this kind of public humiliation and personal destruction, heaven help us. The PBS investigators refused to review any of my personal documentation, refused to provide me the names of any accusers, refused to speak to my current staff, and refused to provide me any semblance of due process to defend myself against allegations from unknown sources. Their mind was made up. Almost immediately following the meeting, this story broke in Variety as an “exclusive.” Indeed, I learned more about these allegations reading the Variety story than the PBS investigator shared with me, the accused, in our 3 hour face to face meeting.
“My attorneys were sent a formal letter invoking a contractual provision to not distribute my programming, and that was it.
“Put simply, PBS overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation, which led to a rush to judgment, and trampling on a reputation that I have spent an entire lifetime trying to establish.
“This has gone too far. And, I, for one, intend to fight back.
“It’s time for a real conversation in America, so men and women know how to engage in the workplace. I look forward to actively participating in that conversation.”
Omarosa Fired, Escorted from the White House
“Former ‘Apprentice’ reality star Omarosa Manigault Newman was escorted from the White House after she protested the terms of her firing from Chief of Staff John Kelly, eventually proceeded to the White House residence and tripped alarms, CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett reports,” CBS News reported Wednesday, citing the Associated Press .
“Manigault Newman, who had a somewhat tumultuous tenure in the White House, was fired by Kelly on Tuesday, Garrett reports. Kelly gave her until Jan. 20 to leave. But Newman did not like those terms and tried to renegotiate. Kelly said no. So, she appealed to Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, but she took no action. Newman then found her way to the White House residence, where she tripped the alarms. Kelly became angry, and had her escorted from the building. It is unclear who did the escorting.
“A White House official denied this account of Manigault Newman’s departure.
“Late Wednesday, the Secret Service denied that Secret Service officers physically forced Manigault Newman from the premises. . . .”
Eliza Relman added for Business Insider, “After the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, on Tuesday informed Omarosa Manigault Newman of her firing, she attempted to enter the White House residence to speak with President Donald Trump, only to be escorted from the grounds.
“Ryan said Newman, a former Trump campaign adviser who has since January been the director of communications for the White House’s Office of Public Liaison, protested her dismissal and brought up her efforts to recruit black voters to support Trump during the campaign and her relationships with historically black colleges and universities.
“ ‘During that altercation with General Kelly, Omarosa said that she had brought the black vote to President Trump,’ Ryan said. ‘General Kelly said, “No, that is not the case.” ‘ . . .”
Manigault Newman appeared Thursday on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America,” saying she resigned at that as the only African American woman at a senior level at the White House, “there were a lot of things that I observed during the last year that I was very unhappy with, that I was very uncomfortable with. . . . It is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear,” she said. See item below.
Newman was at the center of a confrontational panel discussion in August at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans.
The panel began with the relatives of black men killed by police but evolved into a heated back and forth between moderator Ed Gordon and Newman over whether Newman should be asked to defend Trump’s policies.
“It was a hot mess” was the most common description onlookers used to describe what resulted.
Omarosa Says She Has ‘Quite a Story to Tell’
Omarosa Manigault Newman was interviewed by Michael Strahan Thursday on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America,” (video) where she disputed accounts of her forthcoming exit from the White House. She said she resigned and was not fired, and singled out as inaccurate reports by April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, with whom she has been feuding.
Manigault Newman also said, “There were a lot of things that I observed over the last year that I was very unhappy with, that I was very uncomfortable with. Things that I heard, that I observed, that I listened to. I can’t expand upon it because I still have to go back and work with these individuals, but when I have a chance to tell my story, I have quite a story to tell.”
Here is a transcript.
Strahan: A lot of speculation about you leaving the White House; let’s get straight to it. What happened?
A: I resigned, and I didn’t do that in the residence as being reported. John Kelly and I sat down in the Situation Room, which is a very secure, very quiet room in the White House, and we had a very candid conversation, and I wanted to make the one-year mark, that was one of the goals that I set out to [do], and then get back to my life.
Strahan: So you resigned, you weren’t fired, as has been reported.
A: I like to hear all of these interesting tales, but I have to tell you that they’re 100 percent false. And one of the things I ask of those people who are making those assertions, since they assert that I did it so publicly, is where are the pictures or videos? If I had confronted John Kelly, who is a very formidable person, it would garner enough attention for anyone in the room to at least take a picture, or a video, or something.The assertion that I would do that in front of 600 guests at a Christmas party and no one has reported that except for one individual who has a personal vendetta against me, and so I have to tell you, completely false, unverified reporting, and John Kelly and I had a very straightforward discussion about concerns that I had, issues that I raised, and as a result, I resigned, and it will be taking place Jan. 20, when I leave this very interesting administration.
Strahan: So you’re saying that all these reports are coming from one person but —
A: Let’s be clear. Only one person. No one else has reported what she’s reporting, and this is the one person who has attacked me for the last year, so you know that this is personal.
Strahan: What is your relationship with him? What was your relationship with him?
A. John Kelly was the chief of staff. And as an assistant to the president, there’s about 30 of us. We all report to the chief of staff. And when he came in it was during a lot of turmoil.
And I stand out. I’m the only African American woman who sits at the table with those 30 assistants to the president, and we all had to adjust to his very different, militaristic style. But I had a very clear, outlined defined role for what I did, and every captain, every coach gets an opportunity, to use a sports analogy, to choose their team. Donald Trump chose me for his team. And I am certain that as John Kelly was starting to develop his team . . . that he wanted to be on his team.
Strahan: . . . they say you were just able to walk into the Oval Office; John Kelly comes in and says, ‘No more that.” Did that happen? Did he restrict your access?
A. No, first of all, he brought order, much needed order to the West Wing. Absolutely. All dozen wanted to talk with us. We went into the Oval to talk with the president anytime.
Strahan: You had to be called in?
A. Absolutely. The president, as you know, reads a lot of news, he watches a lot of news, and he had a question about something that he saw, and he wanted information, he would call us. If I had to ask him something, I was very respectful of the process. Certainly, I had more access than most. People had problems with that. People had problems with my 14-year relationship with this president. But I’ve always been loyal to him, straightforward, and I’ve provided him with the support that he’s needed throughout this year in the White House.
Strahan: When this did happen, did you try to enter the residence? Did that happen?
A. No, the White House is the most secure place in the world. It is ridiculous to assert that anyone would be able to violate the security parameters . . . outlined in the most secure building in the world. Not only is it ridiculous, but it is also absurd. And I would hope that people would recognize that there is a very good security infrastructure around this president. I wouldn’t want anyone, nonetheless myself, to be able to run around, or cause a disruption, because it is secure for that reason. He is truly the president of the United States and should be afforded that respect, and I have always been respectful.
Strahan: And you say you resigned, and when you resigned there were reports that you were escorted off the grounds. Were you escorted off?
A. No, I was not, and in fact, Secret Service put out a statement because I think that they were bothered with the assertion that they were involved with any type of escorting or shutting me down, that sort of thing. I think you should take the word of the U.S. Secret Service over someone who has a personal vendetta to bring me down and they personally gain by continuing to advance these false narratives.
Strahan: But one thing the Secret Service did tweet out is that they deactivated your pass.
A. So you get two passes. I’m glad you asked me that.
Strahan: If you were working until the 20th, why would they deactivate your pass?
A. I’m glad you asked me that, because there are three complexes in the White House. And as you are restricted or limited, your access to certain areas is restricted. And so, obviously, with me leaving, I wouldn’t be given and advanced the same type of access to classified information, to personal presidential communication, so that access changed, which means that my pass has to change. So what they tweeted was correct.
One, I was not escorted, you can believe the Secret Service on that, and they’re deactivating my pass, reducing and restricting it to areas that I can only go. Was absolutely correct and it should be done in that way. As people’s roles in the White House change, so should their access. What they tweeted was correct, and I believe that CNN should correct their reporting, based on the fact that Secret Service advanced that statement that I was not escorted, I did not cause a disruption, and I believe that their word is truly valid.
Strahan: And I want to ask you something about — one of your friends said, Armstrong Williams. Armstrong Williams told the Washington Post you were unhappy with Trump’s handling of Charlottesville, and also his endorsement of Roy Moore. Is that true?
A. You know, because I am serving until the 20th, I have to be very careful about how I answer this, but there were a lot of things that I observed during the last year that I was very unhappy with, that I was very uncomfortable with. Things that I heard, that I observed, that I listened to.
Strahan: Such as?
A. I can’t expand upon it because I still have to go back and work with these individuals, but when I have a chance to tell my story, Michael, I have quite a story to tell. As the only African American woman in this White House as a senior staff and assistant to the president, I’ve seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that [have] affected my community and my people. And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story, that I know the world will want to hear.
Strahan: You were in the White House to bring together, you know, everyone, to unify this country. That’s what President Trump ran on, the premise of unifying the county, bringing the country together. In his words, blacks and whites together. Do you think he’s done that, effectively? Do you think that the job that you were put there to do was effective as well?
A: Let me give you some perspective. This isn’t my first time in the White House. I served in the Clinton administration. This is my second tour of duty serving my country, and I take it very seriously. Every administration, they seek to unify the country. President Clinton had the Commission on Race because he was concerned about how divided the country was. At the end of that report they said that they hadn’t achieved their goal of unifying the country. That’s after eight years.
Strahan: I don’t want to talk about President Clinton; I want to talk about our country now. What has President Trump done?
A: People forget that I’m not new to this. I’ve been in politics for a very long time and I know what I’m doing, and what was trying to be done 20 years ago. And what you’re trying to say that we didn’t accomplish in 11 months is a little ridiculous. We’ve been there 11 months. To unify a nation that was truly divided by one of the most complicated elections in history, to do that in 11 months is almost impossible. But did President Trump try? I think that he tried in his own way.
There are things that he could have done and things that this administration needs to continue to do to try to bring this country together. Hopefully, they’ll succeed for the good of this nation.
Strahan: And you’re talking about your tour of duty in the White House. One quick thing: You said this summer, “I fight on the front lines every day, if you’re not on the table, you’re on the menu.” Well, you’re no longer at the table, so where does that leave you then?
A: No longer at the table, but still engaged and involved in advancing this country. Still making sure that I’m fighting for my community and fighting for issues that are passionate to me, and, remarkably, trying to do that, and be certain that I am remembered as somebody who’s committed to advancing this country.
Strahan: Omarosa, thank you for joining me and telling your story.
Media Caught by Hoax on D.C. Team Name Change
““A coalition of Native American activists has claimed responsibility for a series of fake news articles that appeared Wednesday morning, claiming to report that the Washington NFL team had changed its controversial name to the Washington Redhawks,” Kevin Abourezk reported Wednesday for indianz.com.
“The articles — allegedly from reputable news sources like The Washington Post, ESPN, The Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated went viral and reported the team released a new name, logo and mascot for the 2018 football season. The new ‘logo’ features a Redhawk and maroon and gold colors, similar to the former logo, ‘kept to commemorate the enduring legacy of the Washington football team franchise,’ according to the reports.”But Tony Wyllie, senior vice president for communications for the team, said the news was fake.
“ ‘This morning, the Redskins organization was made aware of fraudulent websites about our team name,’ Wyllie said in a statement to Indianz.Com. ‘The name of the team is the Washington Redskins and will remain that for the future,’ Wyllie said of what turned out to be a social justice campaign carried out on social media.
Noted activist Suzan Shown Harjo, who is Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee and is one the most prominent critics of the team’s name, also took part. She said it is important to continue the fight against Native American sports mascots. . . .”
Record Number of Journalists Imprisoned for Work
“For the second year in a row, the number of journalists imprisoned for their work hit a historical high, as the U.S. and other Western powers failed to pressure the world’s worst jailers — Turkey, China, and Egypt—into improving the bleak climate for press freedom,” the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Wednesday.
“As of December 1, 2017, CPJ found 262 journalists behind bars around the world in relation to their work, an increase on last year’s historical high of 259. Turkey is again the worst jailer, with 73 journalists imprisoned for their work as the country continues its press freedom crackdown. China and Egypt again take the second and third spot, with 41 and 20 cases respectively. The worst three jailers are responsible for jailing 134 — or 51 percent — of the total. . . .”
Steven Erlanger, New York Times: ‘Fake News,’ Trump’s Obsession, Is Now a Cudgel for Strongmen
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