Suspended PBS host Tavis Smiley doubled down on his denials of sexual misconduct and creating a hostile work environment, saying that while he did have consensual relationships with women from his company, none of them had been inappropriate or coercive.
“There are millions of Americans who are watching this program right now who met their spouses at work,” Smiley told “Good Morning America” reporter Paula Faris on Monday. “I may be the brand of my company but I am not an inanimate object. I am not an angry black man and this notion of a hostile environment just doesn’t’ fit.”
In addition, Smiley repeated almost verbatim an earlier denial of misconduct he posted to Twitter last week.
“I have never groped, I have never coerced, I have never exposed myself inappropriately to anyone,” Smiley said while adding that he was still a supporter of women who came forward to report actual abuse. “I celebrate and applaud those women who had the courage to come out and tell their truth.”
He also took PBS to task for suspending his long-running talk show on the network in the wake of accusations by a woman who had worked on the show.
“PBS made a huge mistake here, they need to fix this, they need to correct it,” adding that he was unsure whether he would be able to ever work with them again.
For its part, PBS stood by their decision to suspend Smiley’s show.
“Following receipt of a complaint, PBS hired an independent law firm to conduct an investigation and we stand by its integrity,” said a network spokesperson. “The totality of the investigation, which included a three-hour interview of Mr. Smiley, revealed multiple sexual relationships with subordinates over many years, and other acts that together constitute a pattern of conduct inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.”
In addition to PBS, Smiley was also dropped by Walmart, a prominent sponsor, and Mills Entertainment, an entertainment production company which had been producing Smiley’s latest project, “Death of a King,” a theatrical retelling of the life of Martin Luther King Jr.