Fox News’ Laura Ingraham came out in defense of PBS host Tavis Smiley on Thursday. Smiley is facing accusations of sexual misconduct and was suspended by PBS on Wednesday. He has denied the accusations and maintained his innocence.
“I think he is telling the truth,” said Ingraham. “I know Tavis Smiley a little bit. I have known him, casual friend for like 20 years.”
In a defiant statement on social media, Smiley lashed out at his employer, explicitly refuting the allegations and blasting PBS for what he said was a sloppy investigation.
“I have the utmost respect for all women and I certainly celebrate the courage of those women who have come forth of late to share their own truth, but let me also assure you that I have never groped, inappropriately exposed myself or coerced any colleague ever in my 30 year career,” said Smiley in a defiant statement posted to Twitter. “It is clear that this has gone too far and I, for one, intend to fight back.”
— Tavis Smiley (@tavissmiley) December 14, 2017
PBS, however, stood by their decision in a statement of their own on Thursday.
“Following receipt of a complaint, PBS hired an independent law firm to conduct an investigation and we stand by its integrity,” a network spokesperson said. “The totality of the investigation, which included Mr. Smiley, revealed a pattern of multiple relationships with subordinates over many years, and other conduct inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.”
Ingraham said she was concerned that careers like Smiley’s and former New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza’s were being ruined too swiftly and entirely on the basis of anonymous allegations.
The Fox News host has increasingly staked herself against the rising tide of the #MeToo movement. In addition to Smiley, she raised eyebrows by defending Democratic Sen. Al Franken.
“Be wary of the lynch mob that you join today because tomorrow it could be coming for your husband, your brother, your son and yes, even your president,” she warned shortly before Franken announced his resignation last week.