Tavis Smiley rips PBS' 'so-called investigation' into sexual misconduct claims

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Tavis Smiley excoriated PBS late Wednesday for suspending distribution of his long-running self-titled talk show, saying in a Facebook post that the network’s "so-called investigation" into his alleged misconduct had been “biased and sloppy.”

Smiley, whose nightly program has aired on PBS since 2004, flatly denied PBS’ accusations that he had behaved inappropriately in the workplace.

Variety reported that the allegations involved sexual misconduct with co-workers.

Smiley said on Facebook he had “never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years,” adding for emphasis: “Never. Ever. Never.”

The host, who said he was "shocked" by the suspension, also suggested that the recent wave of awareness about workplace sexual harassment was leading to inaccurate accusations.

“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,” Smiley wrote in a statement accompanying his video on Facebook.

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

PBS announced Wednesday that it had suspended Smiley’s show after its investigation had “uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.”

But Smiley said PBS “overreacted” and conducted a “biased and sloppy investigation, which led to a rush to judgment.”

The network “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,” Smiley said. “Their mind was made up.”

Smiley added that he learned of the internal investigation only when former staffers who had been contacted by PBS investigators reached out to him.

He finished with a cautionary note about the current national conversation on sexual harassment.

“It’s time for a real conversation in America, so men and women know how to engage in the workplace. I look forward to actively participating in that conversation.”