Smiley: There is much more to PBS decides to suspend me
TV host Tavis Smiley speaks out about PBS’s decision to stop distributing his show is based on allegations of sexual misconduct, saying that she never told him that he was under investigation, that his accusers are, the specific allegations. According to Smiley, we begin to ‘criminalizing’ of voluntary relationships. #Tucker
Talk show host Tavis Smiley told Fox News on Monday he is not sure of why PBS suspended him and that the network has refused to reveal the specific allegations of sexual misconduct charged against him.
“PBS at this time has not told me specifically what I am being suspended for,” Smiley said during an interview on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” adding that he does not even know that a study was started to co-workers contacted him.
“PBS) has launched an investigation, without telling me about it,” he said. “I found it in the streets. As former colleagues of mine call me to tell me that they receive strange phone calls and were asked strange questions of some researcher asking questions like: ‘Did Tavis ever make you feel uncomfortable? Are there other people we should talk?'”
“They started letting me know of these conversations. That is how I found out about this.”
Smiley also said that he tried to have a meeting with officials at PBS, but was rejected for weeks and it was only when his lawyers threatened to sue that they have a meeting with him.
“And in that three-hour conversation, she never told [me] what the allegations were,” he said to Carlson. “Who the prosecutors were… I was never admitted to providing information. Any evidence to disprove something, perhaps I could have refuted.”
Smiley continued, “They would not allow me to present any proof. And frankly, it doesn’t give me a fair trial… And on top of that, at this time, they have not spoken with anyone on my current staff who was in charge of HR. It is mind boggling that they kind of played this game of pick-and-choose whom they want to talk. All of these people that they have spoken with are former employees… some of them who were terminated.”
Smiley excoriated PBS last Wednesday for the suspension of the distribution of long-term self-titled talk show, saying in a Facebook post that the network of the “so-called investigation” into his alleged misconduct had been “biased and sloppy.”
He repeated these claims during his appearance on Fox News.
“There are a number of things they can do and they just failed this,” he said. “They have engaged in a sloppy investigation, and something needs to be done to fix this.”
Smiley, whose nightly program was broadcast on PBS since 2004, flatly denied the network of the allegations that he would be inappropriate to behave in the workplace.
He also went on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday repeats that he never forced someone in a relationship, but had voluntary relationships in the workplace, what he said, was not against PBS’ policy.
Smiley has admitted that he’s only human and has made mistakes, but that they are not the merit of a suspension.
He said that he applauds the women to come forward to have their sexual assault and harassment experiences “to lead us in a conversation about creating healthy workplaces.”
However, Smiley said that it is important to not to lose a sense of “proportionality” in the conversation, “because if we do, people end up being guilty simply by accusation.”
PBS responded in a matter of hours, saying Smiley’s recognition of multiple relationships in contradiction with his earlier statements.
“Tavis Smiley needs to get his story right,” he said in a statement adding: “Additional allegations continue to come to light since last week’s announcement.”
PBS also fired back at Smiley’s claim that he applauds the women who have come forward, pointing out that Smiley’s company hinders such actions by requiring that the former and current employees to sign non-disclosure agreements. “Witnesses who bravely come forward to speak with the independent investigators retained by PBS report a fear of retaliation for speaking out,” said network.
PBS suspended in Smiley last week, the issue of a declaration: “from now on PBS is indefinitely suspended distribution of ‘Tavis Smiley, produced by TS Media, an independent production company.”
While Smiley claims his innocence, PBS said in its statement of the network ” detected multiple, credible allegations of behaviour that is not in accordance with the values and standards of PBS.”
Smiley intends to fight against the allegations.
Fox News’ Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter via @perrych