Tavis Smiley says he'll fight for his reputation, PBS is not impressed

Jenna Warner
December 19, 2017

Smiley said that only under the threat of a lawsuit did PBS lawyers sit down and discuss the case with him. Tavis was also accused of creating a threatening and verbally abusive work environment.

Smiley has defended himself against the allegations, telling ABC's "Good Morning America" that PBS made a mistake in suspending his show. "However, we take seriously the allegations and will be suspending our relationship with Tavis Smiley and T.S. Productions".

"I certainly understand people can have a viewpoint any consensual relationship in the workplace is wrong ... but there are also other points of view on this", he said.

"And I don't think taxpayers want their money spent that way", Smiley said pointedly to Fox News Channel viewers.

"The environments are intense at times", he said.

Making the media rounds as he argued his side of the situation, Smiley has said PBS reps met with him for that length of time, only after his reps threatened to sue if they did not. "When the ball gets dropped on something I have to deal with those".

After the investigation, Smiley said, he was unsure whether he would return to PBS, which distributes his talk show. "I'm not an angry Black man". Variety reported Wednesday that the firm had interviewed 10 witnesses, many of whom are former staffers, who anxious that their employment in Smiley's company "was linked to the status of a sexual relationship" with him. "They need to fix this, they need to correct it".

Smiley acknowledged that he has engaged in several relationships with his employees after "30 years of being in the business", but he maintained he is not guilty of sexual harassment.

A PBS spokeswoman said Smiley's latest comments contradict a previous Facebook post in which he said he had just one relationship with an employee. "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".

Smiley denied using his powerful perch for sex, as well as currying favor or punishing anyone over his advances.

He blasted the initial inquiry PBS conducted into the accusations, saying the network never gave him a chance to respond to the claims made against him and that he still doesn't know where the complaints originated.

Smiley is the latest prominent figure in the news media, politics and the entertainment industry to face misconduct allegations.

"PBS stands by its decision to respect the anonymity of those who are afraid to come forward publicly".

A sponsor of his talk show, Walmart, paused its relationship with him in light of the investigation. Mills Entertainment, which produces live events, also pulled out of backing Smiley's theatrical production on Martin Luther King Jr.'s life, the Associated Press reported.

Other reports by Insurance News

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