PBS has suspended its distribution of “Tavis Smiley” after “multiple, credible allegations” of misconduct against the late-night show’s eponymous host.
Variety first reported the news that an investigation “found credible allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates” and that some feared “their employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley.”
But Smiley, in a text and video statement posted on Facebook later that night, said PBS had gone too far.
“I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth. To be clear, I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years,” he said in the statement.
“Put simply, PBS overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation, which led to a rush to judgment, and trampling on a reputation that I have spent an entire lifetime trying to establish.”
A PBS spokeswoman said that the company hired an outside law firm to investigate “troubling allegations” about the 53-year-old television personality and author.
Here is the full statement from PBS: “Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of ‘Tavis Smiley,’ produced by TS Media, an independent production company. 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.”
In response to Smiley’s statement, PBS said it stands by the integrity of its investigation. “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 PBS statement reads.
The decision comes less than a month after PBS decided to cut ties with journalist Charlie Rose, after eight women — who worked for or were trying to gain employment on Rose’s television show — told the Washington Post that the longtime television host had groped them, made lewd remarks and initiated other unwanted sexual advances over the course of several decades. CBS also suspended Rose from his roles on “CBS This Morning” and “60 Minutes.”
“PBS expects all the producers we work with to provide a workplace where people feel safe and are treated with dignity and respect,” a spokesperson told PBS NewsHour at the time.
Editor’s note: The first paragraph and headline of this story has been edited from an earlier version. The word “sexual” has been removed to reflect that the PBS NewsHour has not independently confirmed the allegations are sexual in nature.