PASADENA, Calif. – PBS, which dealt with sexual misconduct allegations in its own backyard, will air a series examining the pressing social issue.
The five-part series, “#MeToo, Now What?” will address how we got here and how “we can use this moment to effect positive and lasting change,” PBS chief executive Paula Kerger said Tuesday.
Hosted by Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, a humanitarian organization, the series will include reporting and conversations on topics including how race and class figure into the issue.
Men and women from across the country will be among the studio guests, along with activists, celebrities and leaders from media, business and other sectors. The series will debut Feb. 2.
In a Q&A with TV critics, Kerger was asked why PBS was caught unaware by misconduct allegations against Charlie Rose that led PBS to drop his long-running interview program.
Rose, who also lost his job on “CBS This Morning” and as a “60 Minutes” contributor, called the allegations embarrassing but inaccurate.
Rose’s program was independently produced and managed by him, as are other public TV programs, and PBS didn’t have “that kind of view” into his organization that would been revelatory, Kerger said.
“That does not absolve us of the responsibility of trying to ensure that we are supporting a culture where people are valued and respected,” Kerger said.
PBS has a “robust, proactive” human resources department and a whistle-blower line for employees that is linked to the board of directors, not PBS management, she said.
PBS also severed ties with talk show host Tavis Smiley after investigating misconduct allegations against him, which he has repeatedly denied.
A wave of accusations against prominent men gave rise to the #MeToo anti-misconduct movement.
Kerger was asked where federal funding for public TV stands. The Trump administration has proposed axing government support for public media.
PBS’ share of the approximately $450 million in federal funds allocated for public TV and radio goes largely to support public TV stations nationwide, a number of which rely on it for up to 50 percent of their budget and can’t survive without it, Kerger has said.
Many of those stations are in rural and underserved areas with residents who either don’t have access to cable or satellite or can’t afford it and who rely on over-the-air broadcasting
“We are grateful to have bipartisan support in Congress, which reflects the support we have from Americans in every corner of this country,” Kerger said.
Given that some lawmakers will try to eliminate funding in the next budget and the polarized tenor of the time, Kerger said, it’s critical for PBS to demonstrate its value as a town hall for civil conversation.
She cited the recently aired documentary “The Vietnam War,” from filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, as an example of a PBS program that fostered dialogue, with veterans, peace activists and others connecting over it.