TLC Comms VP Departs for CBS in Wake of Duggars Scandal

Dustin Smith spent almost eight years with the network.

One of TLC’s top PR executives has left the network weeks after the Duggar scandal ended in the cancellation of 19 Kids and Counting.

TLC and its parent company Discovery Communications have scored more bad press than your average network in recent months, shutting down production on the inexplicably popular Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and the Duggar family’s show due to the real-life misbehavior of cast members.

The latest headlines regarding the latter hold that its cancellation cost TLC well over $19 million and led matriarch Michelle Duggar to experience a “mental breakdown” due to difficulties “accepting the fact that her clan will no longer be starring in a worldwide TV program.”

Recent staffing changes atop Discovery’s PR operations may well be pure coincidence–but today VP of comms Dustin Smith announced that he would be leaving the network for a similar position with CBS.

From his memo:

So, tomorrow is my last day at TLC, and starting next week I’ll be part of the team at CBS. I’ll be working on daytime and reality programming, with a initial focus on The Talk.

It’s been quite an adventure here at TLC throughout the past 7.5 years, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on the horizon at CBS.  I hope to continue working with you there!

Smith will not leave his reality TV comfort zone–and TLC will find someone else to help determine how it will respond to the next controversy.

Last week, Discovery Communications delivered a disappointing Q2 earnings report, but execs attributed that news to currency changes and a slowdown in international growth rather than anything involving the word Duggar.

On that point, this morning The Hollywood Reporter also ran a piece in which president/former Disney exec Rich Ross promised a “strategic realignment” of the company’s properties in order to ensure future growth. As U.S. CEO David Zaslav put it, “I believe some of Discovery’s best stories are yet to be told.”

Sounds like a tough but lucrative job for an ambitious PR professional.