Tavis Smiley Blasts PBS for ‘So-Called Investigation’ Prompting Show Suspension: ‘This Has Gone Too Far’

“I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague”

Tavis Smiley
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Tavis Smiley has blasted PBS for its decision to “indefinitely” suspend broadcasting his show on Wednesday following an accusation of  sexual misconduct that the longtime talk-show host vehemently denies.

“I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth. To be clear, I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “Never. Ever. Never.”

“This has gone too far,” he said. “And, I, for one, intend to fight back.”

Smiley said he was “shocked” to find out about his suspension, and that Variety, which first reported the story, knew before he did.

He said that PBS began its investigation without informing him, and only realized what was happening after “former staffers started contacting me to share the uncomfortable experience of receiving a phone call from a stranger asking whether, I had ever done anything to make them uncomfortable, and if they could provide other names of persons to call.”

He said eventually PBS interviewed him, but did not take into account his “personal documentation,” “and refused to provide me any semblance of due process to defend myself against allegations from unknown sources. Their mind was made up.”

In a new statement on Thursday, PBS stood by its decision. “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.”

Smiley maintains that he did have a “consensual relationship with a colleague years ago,” but what was described in the Variety article was not true.

Variety reported that the PBS investigation found Smiley engaged in sexual relationships with his subordinates after 10 reports from witnesses, men and women, of varying employment levels. Most were former staffers, according to Variety.

“It’s time for a real conversation in America, so men and women know how to engage in the workplace,” Smiley said in his response. “I look forward to actively participating in that conversation.”