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National Geographic has pulled Neil deGrasse Tyson’s show ‘Star Talk’ off the air

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Vladimir Weinstein/BFA/REX/Shutterstock (8791799b) Neil deGrasse Tyson The New York Times presents TimesTalks with Neil deGrasse Tyson, TheTimesCenter, New York, USA - 05 May 2017

According to Variety, National Geographic has made the decision to pull Neil deGrasse Tyson‘s show Star Talk off the air.

National Geographic spoke exclusively to Variety, who reported the following:

“In order to allow the investigation to occur unimpeded we chose to hold new episodes of ‘Star Talk’ until it is complete,” a Nat Geo rep told Variety. “We expect that to happen in the next few weeks at which time we’ll make a final decision.”

StarTalk” returned for its fifth season in November and had aired just three episodes, out of a 20-episode order, when new allegations against Tyson emerged.

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This news stems from allegations that were first reported by David McAfee, who published allegations of Neil deGrasse Tyson allegedly raping a woman decades ago, and more recently, allegations of Tyson being sexually inappropriate with two different women. (Full disclosure: I am personal friends with David McAfee.)

The initial reported allegations pertained to Tyson was a graduate student in the 80s, and allegedly raped Tchiya Amet. Subsequent reports then surfaced regarding Tyson allegedly groping Dr. Katelyn N. Allers at an event, and a former assistant named Ashley Watson alleged that Tyson made repeated sexual advances towards her. 

It’s important to note that this does not appear to be an all-out cancellation of Tyson’s show, but an indefinite hiatus.

This is a rather curious development, paired with National Geographic’s previous statement regarding the matter when the allegations first broke:

The credo at the heart of ‘Cosmos’ is to follow the evidence wherever it leads,” the producers said in a joint statement. “The producers of ‘Cosmos’ can do no less in this situation.  We are committed to a thorough investigation of this matter and to act accordingly as soon as it is concluded. (Variety)

Fox Broadcasting Group had previously issued this statement regarding the matter:

We have only just become aware of the recent allegations regarding Neil deGrasse Tyson. We take these matters very seriously and we are reviewing the recent reports. (Variety)

It’s worth noting that in 2015, Fox Broadcasting Group bought National Geographic for $725 million.

I’m really unsure what to think here.

A previously published op-ed on A Science Enthusiast by Lucas Lynch offered the following thoughts about the allegations shortly after news first broke:

The question doesn’t seem to be whether or not such behavior is acceptable, but whether such behavior merits not only a public condemnation, but also the termination of one’s professional life. It is a situation eerily reminiscient of what is becoming a bit of a ‘Remember the Alamo’ cry among Democrats who perceive a darker side to to the movement – the fate of Al Franken, the former Senator from Minnesota, forced to resign after several women came forward claiming he tried to forcibly kiss them, along with accusations of groping.

“Since the matter wasn’t settled, progressives argue, Franken deserved a full investigation before Democrats determined his fate. The Ethics Committee started an initial inquiry, but they never completed their work because Franken agreed to leave before they could.

In hindsight, a set of Democrats felt hustled. Gillibrand, who led the charge against Franken, is widely assumed to be setting up a run for the presidency in 2020. She forced her colleagues’ hands in a deft public maneuver that made it hard for them not to go along with her. Some Democrats have since name-checked her with a tinge of resentment. Other liberals openly called her the type of names aggressive women who want to run for president get called. Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast compared her to the Queen of Hearts, Lewis Carroll’s unhinged monarch who screams, “Off with their heads!”

Even a number of senators who pressured Franken to leave have regrets. Maybe they were too hasty. “I think we acted prematurely, before we had all the facts,” an anonymous senator told Politico. “In retrospect, I think we acted too fast.”

It appears that National Geographic/Fox are taking their time to follow up with the allegations, which we can all agree is good. However, given the nature of this type of investigation, I doubt that we’ll learn anything new from National Geographic or Fox regarding what they’ve found. Hopefully, more information is shared that brings clarity to the situation so the general public isn’t relegated to speculation.

Whatever the case, I agree with how they’ve conducted their investigation so far – by following the evidence wherever it leads. Hopefully, National Geographic and Fox offer some level of transparency once they are satisfied that enough evidence has been gathered.

Written by Dan Broadbent

Science Enthusiast. Atheist. Lover of cats.

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