Tavis Smiley, whose half-hour talk show was suspended last week by PBS over allegations of his having sexual relations with “multiple subordinates,” insists that he’s done nothing wrong and will be vindicated.
In an exclusive interview Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Smiley lashed at his accusers, saying, “I have never groped, I have never coerced, I have never exposed myself inappropriately.”
While Smiley, 53, admitted having consensual relationships in the workplace, he slammed PBS for not giving him a chance to prove the relationships were consensual.
“PBS only agreed to talk to me after weeks of investigation, which they didn’t tell me about,” Smiley said. “PBS never informed me that a complaint was even alleged. … They were prepared to close this investigation without talking to me. Only under the threat of a lawsuit did they sit down and talk to me.
“PBS made a huge mistake here,” he said. “They need to fix this, they need to correct it.”
PBS, which had aired Smiley’s eponymous late-night show since 2004, indefinitely suspended distribution of the show amid allegations of misconduct by Smiley. An investigation by an independent law firm found that he was involved in several sexual relationships with “multiple subordinates,” some of whom were afraid their jobs hinged upon the relationship.
PBS officials said the network stands by the findings of the investigation.
“Tavis Smiley needs to get his story straight,” a spokeswoman for PBS said Monday in an email to CNN’s Brian Stelter. “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.”
Smiley’s show is produced by his independent production company, TS Media. He is not a PBS employee.