Suspended PBS Host Tavis Smiley Vows to ‘Fight Back’ Against Claims of Sexual Misconduct

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Suspended PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley took to Facebook to issue a strongly worded statement against claims of sexual misconduct against the network.


PBS suspended Smiley’s show Wednesday, citing “multiple, credible allegations of conduct that it said were inconsistent with its values,” ABC News reports.

“I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth,” Smiley said in a statement released on Facebook after the suspension was announced. “To be clear, I have never groped, coerced or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering six networks over 30 years.

“This has gone too far. And I, for one, intend to fight back,” he added.

Smiley claimed that he was as shocked as his viewers were to learn that his show had been suspended. He claims that he only learned of the investigation after colleagues called him to inform him that PBS had questioned them about Smiley’s behavior in the workplace.

Here’s what Variety claims took place during the investigation:

The investigation found credible allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates, sources said. Some witnesses interviewed expressed concern that their employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley. In general, witnesses described Smiley as creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment that went beyond what could be expected in a typical high-pressure work environment. Several expressed concerns about retaliation.


Smiley alleges that all of his relationships were consensual and that the network only agreed to speak to him about the accusations after he threatened a lawsuit.

“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,” he said.


“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 added. “Their mind was made up.”

Smiley also claimed that he learned most of what led to his suspension by PBS after reading the report in Variety.


The Variety article claims that investigators spoke with 10 witnesses, both men and women, of all races who were once part of Smiley’s staff.

PBS confirmed the suspension in a statement on Wednesday.

“PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley,” a PBS spokesperson said. “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,” the statement added.

Read more at ABC News and Variety.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.