— Tavis Smiley (@tavissmiley) December 14, 2017
After the news of PBS’ suspension of Tavis Smiley’s late-night talk show broke Wednesday night, the host is hitting back in a bristling video post on Facebook and Twitter. Variety reported PBS suspended production of “Tavis Smiley” after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. But according to Smiley, he “never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career.”
“I was as shocked as you were to hear of PBS’ sudden announcement regarding my television program,” he says in a video posted early Thursday, Dec. 14. “Let me say at the outset that I have the utmost respect for all women and I certainly celebrate the courage of those women who’ve come forth of late to share their truth.”
He added that PBS launched a “sloppy” investigation on the matter, which included “credible allegations” from 10 witnesses who said Smiley engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates, according to Variety’s sources. Witnesses said they felt their employment was tied to having a sexual relationship with Smiley and said he created a verbally abusive and threatening work environment. Additionally, there was some concern about retaliation.
“Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of ‘Tavis Smiley,’ produced by TS Media, an independent production company,” read the statement. “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.”
Yet, Smiley said he did not learn about the probe until ex-colleagues got in touch with him to say they got calls from PBS asking them if he ever made them uncomfortable and for names of others to contact. Smiley noted that it was only after he threatened a lawsuit that PBS had a three-hour sitdown with him. But he said the story broke almost immediately after the meeting and that the network which he called his talk show home for 13 years “refused to provide me any semblance of due process.”
“It is clear that this has gone too far,” he says. “And, I, for one, intend to fight back.”
Sexual Assault Scandal Erupts in Media
Online, commenters reacted with a mix of support for Smiley and applause for his ousting.
Some thought he deserved to have his show suspended, with some remarking on his criticism of former President Barack Obama.
Wow. Remember when Tavis Smiley was on a crusade to hold Pres. Obama accountable? Welp.
— missno (@missno) December 13, 2017
Apparently, while Tavis Smiley was on his 'hold Obama accountable' jealousy tour — he wasn't even holding himself accountable to the most basic act of human decency. #MeToo
— Bill Madden (@activist360) December 14, 2017
Others thought PBS took things too far over the allegations.
I think this #MeToo movement is a hugely important revolution in the Left-wing institutions of the arts and news media. Obviously There be monsters, but even in the court of public opinion, people deserve a fair hearing.
— Google: "Tapper, Lewinsky, Date, Chubby" (@NolteNC) December 14, 2017
It’s amazing how people quick to assume that the so-called victims are telling the truth and that they’re not lying
— Queen Anita Soul (@queenanitaempi1) December 14, 2017
One said they stood by Smiley.
I believe you bro! Keep rockin
— SOALife (@SOALifecom) December 14, 2017
And some felt saddened.
This is very sad news. Enjoyed his interviews.
— MaryWinMontana (@MaryWinMontana) December 14, 2017
I’m so sad 😞
— Mindy Hall (@mindy1965) December 14, 2017
This is SO SAD I had so much respect for Tavis Smiley. I am stunned to hear this news.
— OrvilleLloydDouglas (@OrvilleLloyd) December 14, 2017
And a couple expressed surprise, although the former was sarcastic.
They got Tavis Smiley too?! pic.twitter.com/gMw4L46IDV
— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) December 14, 2017
— Herb "Not paying $8.99 for this site" Mitchell (@Pelicaine) December 14, 2017