Tavis Smiley Says PBS Will ‘Continue’ Investigation: ‘Little Bit Late for That Now’ (Video)

PBS parted ways with Smiley over sexual misconduct accusations

Last Updated: December 19, 2017 @ 4:55 PM

Tavis Smiley, who was abruptly let go by PBS last week over accusations of sexual misconduct, said the network has decided to continue its probe into the allegations.

Calling it “a bit of breaking news,” Smiley told morning show “Good Day New York” Tuesday that he just got a letter from PBS, informing him of the network’s decision.

“After they dragged me through the mud, now they want to continue the investigation,” he said. “My point was that you rushed to judgement, you got spooked by all these stories, and now we find there’s really nothing there… it’s insane.”

But a PBS spokeswoman told TheWrap the investigation had never closed, insisting it was only following up on a request to interview current employees of Smiley’s company, TS Media.

Smiley has slammed PBS for what he called a “sloppy investigation,” arguing that investigators failed to interview his current staff members, speaking only to former employees before rendering their verdict.

“Contrary to Mr. Smiley’s assertions,” PBS said, “the outside law firm handling the ongoing investigation, which has uncovered evidence of multiple sexual relationships with subordinates, had expressed interest in interviewing current TS Media employees in early December. The letter delivered to Mr. Smiley’s attorneys yesterday repeated the investigator’s desire to conduct these interviews and also repeated a request, first made December 5, that Mr. Smiley provide a non-retaliation letter making it clear that employees can speak openly and candidly without fear of retribution. To date, he has refused to provide such a letter.”

A rep for Smiley told TheWrap in a statement: “PBS continues to engage in character assassination through various statements to the press that misrepresent the truth. It’s telling that PBS has spent more time feeding the press, than talking to Mr. Smiley or his current staff. This is, quite frankly, beneath the dignity of PBS. Mr. Smiley has made his public remarks and, in consultation with his legal team, is now considering an array of options. We will respond to PBS’ broadsides at a time of our choosing.”

PBS announced last week it was halting its distribution of the “Tavis Smiley” show, which had aired on its network since 2004.

Smiley, who has acknowledged relationships with female subordinates, said during an interview on “Good Morning America” Monday morning that “PBS made a huge mistake” by terminating the distribution of his show.

His comments on “GMA” triggered a rebuke from PBS.

“Tavis Smiley needs to get his story straight,” the network said in a statement. “First, today on ‘Good Morning America,’ Mr. Smiley acknowledged he has had multiple sexual encounters with his employees… This contradicts his Facebook post from last week, where he cited only one previous relationship with an employee.”

Asked whether he’s planning on suing, Smiley told “Good Day New York”: “Everything is on the table.”

“Here’s the sad reality,” he said, “Millions of dollars of taxpayer money is going to be spent by a public entity, PBS, to defend itself in a situation it should never had gotten itself into.”

In its initial statement last week, PBS said it was severing its ties with Smiley after it has uncovered a “pattern of multiple relationships with subordinates over many years, and other conduct inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.”

Smiley shot back, saying: “If having a consensual relationship with a colleague years ago is the stuff that leads to this kind of public humiliation and personal destruction, heaven help us.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include Smiley’s response to PBS.