Tavis Smiley: 'PBS made a huge mistake.' PBS to Smiley: Get your story straight

Tavis Smiley, who was recently called out by PBS over "troubling allegations" about his conduct, staunchly defended h...

Posted: Dec 18, 2017 6:29 PM
Updated: Dec 18, 2017 6:29 PM

Tavis Smiley, who was recently called out by PBS over "troubling allegations" about his conduct, staunchly defended his behavior and his integrity Monday and upbraided the network that suspended the distribution of his show.

"I have never groped. I have never coerced or exposed myself to anyone inappropriately," he told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview.

"I celebrate and applaud the women that came out and told the truth and lead us to create healthy workspaces. At the same time, I want to make sure we don't lose all proportionality in this because if we do, people end up guilty by accusation."

Smiley, 53, is a longtime radio commentator, TV talk show host and author. His 30-minute interview show, "Tavis Smiley," has aired weeknights on PBS since 2004. He is now one of a growing list of public figures facing misconduct allegations.

PBS, which suspended distribution of the "Tavis Smiley" show last week amid "troubling allegations" against the host, fired back after Smiley's appearance on ABC.

"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," the PBS statement said.

The public broadcasting organization said last week it had hired an outside law firm to handle an investigation into the matter "following receipt of a complaint."

"The totality of the investigation, which included Mr. Smiley, revealed a pattern of multiple relationships with subordinates over many years, and other conduct inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS," the statement said.

Smiley responded at that time, 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."

PBS also cited Smiley's comments Monday about applauding the women who have come forward, and noted that his company requires former and current employees to sign non-disclosure agreements.

"Witnesses who have bravely come forward to speak with the independent investigators retained by PBS report a fear of retribution for speaking out," the network said, adding that more allegations "are continuing to come to light since last week's announcement."

PBS is the distributor for Smiley's show, but it's produced by TS Media, Smiley's production company. Smiley is not employed by PBS.

Smiley said he understands and respects the view of people who see consensual sexual relationships in the workplace as wrong. "But there are other points of view on this," he said.

"In our employee handbook, while we do not encourage office relationships, we don't forbid them either and don't forbid them because I don't know where your heart will lead you or who you will hang out with or date. Many met their spouses at work," he said.

On Monday, he said he'll "do anything to protect" his reputation. When asked whether he would go back if PBS later allows it, he said he didn't know.

"PBS made a huge mistake. They need to fix this. They need to correct this. But I don't know the answer."

It doesn't sound like that will happen soon. PBS said it stands by the integrity of its investigation.

"Mr. Smiley's own words today coupled with the information discovered during the investigation confirms PBS' decision to indefinitely suspend the distribution of 'Tavis Smiley,'" the network said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96677

Reported Deaths: 2911
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7143160
DeSoto559460
Harrison388374
Jackson350570
Madison331089
Rankin330679
Lee273670
Forrest248973
Jones248779
Washington225977
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Lamar171635
Lowndes158058
Neshoba1579104
Panola149930
Sunflower147146
Leflore141081
Warren140750
Pontotoc127816
Pike124051
Monroe123568
Copiah119133
Scott117627
Coahoma116329
Marshall110617
Lincoln110253
Holmes109859
Grenada109036
Yazoo106230
Simpson104646
Tate100437
Union99824
Leake96038
Adams94137
Wayne90421
Pearl River89253
Marion86535
Prentiss86217
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Itawamba82621
Alcorn82011
George78013
Tallahatchie77321
Newton77224
Winston74219
Tishomingo69038
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Tippah67117
Attala66725
Walthall60126
Clarke60046
Clay59518
Hancock58722
Jasper57515
Noxubee55116
Smith53415
Calhoun52112
Tunica49715
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46420
Yalobusha43514
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38817
Humphreys37715
Quitman3775
Stone37412
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33210
Carroll31912
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2273
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19676351
Mobile13373292
Montgomery8834184
Tuscaloosa8621118
Madison788178
Shelby597849
Lee589760
Baldwin547750
Marshall394343
Calhoun351544
Etowah349045
Morgan329228
Houston290321
Elmore266748
DeKalb241621
St. Clair232235
Walker231684
Talladega216629
Limestone210120
Cullman189920
Dallas179026
Franklin177129
Autauga176425
Russell17603
Lauderdale171333
Colbert164626
Blount161115
Escambia160824
Chilton158530
Jackson157511
Covington140127
Dale138644
Coffee13486
Pike119810
Chambers116442
Tallapoosa116085
Clarke109116
Marion96429
Butler91239
Barbour8827
Winston74412
Marengo72020
Pickens66214
Bibb65410
Lowndes65327
Randolph64713
Hale63528
Geneva6254
Lawrence62023
Cherokee60813
Bullock60414
Monroe5898
Clay5858
Washington55713
Perry5416
Crenshaw53732
Conecuh53511
Wilcox53111
Henry5055
Macon48018
Fayette4578
Sumter43819
Cleburne3805
Lamar3672
Choctaw34712
Greene30315
Coosa1713
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