Talk show host Tavis Smiley is denying allegations of sexual misconduct, insisting he will “fight back” to clear his name.
Representatives at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) pulled Smiley’s talk show from the air after bosses at the network revealed they had gathered evidence of on set misbehavior against the presenter, following allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of ‘Tavis Smiley‘, produced by TS Media, an independent production company,” a statement to Variety reads. “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.”
Smiley insists he was blindsided by the investigation and its conclusion.
“On the eve of the 15th season and 3,000th episode of my nightly talk show, I was as shocked as anyone else by PBS‘ announcement today,” he says in a Facebook video. “Variety knew before I did. 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. Never. Ever. Never.”
Smiley claims he only learned of the investigation after staff members on his show informed him they had been questioned about his alleged inappropriate behavior. He claims he met with PBS executives after threatening a lawsuit, but they withheld information from him.
“The PBS investigators refused to review any of my personal documentation, refused to provide me the names of any accusers, refused to speak to my current staff, and refused to provide me any semblance of due process to defend myself against allegations from unknown sources,” he continues.
“Their mind was made up. Almost immediately following the meeting, this story broke in Variety as an exclusive. Indeed, I learned more about these allegations reading the Variety story than the PBS investigator shared with me, the accused, in our three-hour face to face meeting.”
Smiley insists executives at the network “overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation” and he will “fight back.”
“This has gone too far,” he says.