Tavis Smiley maintains innocence, says PBS 'made a huge mistake here' after suspension
On Monday morning, Smiley appeared on Good Morning America, where he both admitted to consensual relationships with coworkers while also stating that “in over 30 years over six different networks, there has never been any allegation of [sexual misconduct].”
“PBS made a huge mistake here and they need to fix it,” Smiley said this morning.
Smiley — who owns his own media company, TS Media, which produces his eponymous show for PBS — was suspended last week. In a statement, PBS said, “Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of Tavis Smiley, produced by TS Media, an independent production company. PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley. This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision.”
Speaking Monday, Smiley said, “I certainly understand that people have a viewpoint that any consensual relationship in the workplace is wrong. There are some people who believe that there is no such thing as a consensual relationship in the workplace. I hear that point of view and I respect it. In our employee handbook, while we do not encourage office relationships, we do not forbid either,” he added before admitting that he doesn’t know “where your heart is going to lead you.”
GMA host Paula Faris continued to press Smiley, asking how he can be sure that “these women didn’t feel like they were going to lose their jobs?”
“I never gave any favoritism,” stated the host, before adding that one employee with whom he has had a sexual relationship with is still on his staff. He also claimed that he has “no idea” about reports of sexually explicit messages and unwelcome banter about women’s bodies and that PBS did not tell him who his accusers were.
You can watch the full video above.
Smiley previously issued a lengthy statement about the allegations, saying he was “shocked” by the PBS announcement.
“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,” Smiley said. He also previously criticized PBS for its investigation. “Put simply, PBS overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation, which led to a rush to judgment, and trampling on a reputation that I have spent an entire lifetime trying to establish,” Smiley said last week. “This has gone too far. And, I, for one, intend to fight back. It’s time for a real conversation in America, so men and women know how to engage in the workplace. I look forward to actively participating in that conversation.”