San Francisco Chronicle

Mis­guided de­fense of Smi­ley


Re­gard­ing “Tavis Smi­ley’s part­ner­ship with PBS was al­ready poi­son” (Dec. 21): In his at­tempt to de­fend a PBS talk-show host whose dis­tri­bu­tion deal was sus­pended due to mul­ti­ple ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, colum­nist Ruben Navar­rette Jr. mis­char­ac­ter­izes Smi­ley’s ac­tions as merely “dat­ing sub­or­di­nates.”

The prob­lem with this sit­u­a­tion is that some­one in Smi­ley’s po­si­tion, who can hire and fire em­ploy­ees, might be­have in­ap­pro­pri­ately with­out fear of retri­bu­tion. Many vic­tims of sex­ual ha­rass­ment are re­luc­tant to file work­place com­plaints be­cause they fear los­ing their jobs. And shame on Navar­rette for mak­ing PBS’ de­ci­sion re­gard­ing Travis Smi­ley seem re­lated to his eth­nic­ity. This de­ci­sion, reached af­ter in­ter­views with com­plainants from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, was based upon his be­hav­ior, not his race. Rhonda Jack­son, Oak­land

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