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Tavis Smiley's poisonous partnership with PBS

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

Media personalities are not civil servants. You want tenure and no pressure to produce results? Become a professor. You want to duck accountability? Schools need teachers. You like having a union to protect your job? You might make a good police officer.

But if you begin a career in media, you need to know what you're in for. If you want fame and a decent salary, you've come to the right place. But if you want job security, you've taken a wrong turn.

Ratings down? You're gone. On-camera friction with a co-host? Adios. Publisher telling departments to do more with less? Great working with you.

In the last 27 years, I've had no less than two dozen media jobs in seven cities. And I've been fired six times.

Media work offers no guarantees. You work at the pleasure of whatever company employs you. That's the trade off.

Of course, in the case of many of the media figures who have recently been fired, suspended, or had their shows canceled by media companies because of alleged sexual misconduct, there was good reason for the companies to cut ties.

--Sponsored Video--

Overall, this wave of exposing sexual harassment, and even sexual assault, by high-profile media figures is a good thing. It needs to continue.

But as with any movement, there will be collateral damage. There is a difference between showing bad judgment and engaging in bad behavior.

And sometimes it's the media companies that themselves behave badly by cynically using the wave of sexual harassment allegations as a convenient excuse to get rid of people they don't like or for whom they no longer have use.

I'll tell you why I believe Smiley was let go: It's because he was rumored to "hate" some of the folks at PBS.

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