TAVIS SMILEY FIRES BACK: PBS MADE A HUGE MISTAKE
Tavis Smiley On GMA
ABC NEWS -- Tavis Smiley fires back at sexual harassment allegations: 'PBS made a huge mistake'.
Talk-show host Tavis Smiley defended himself again against sexual harassment allegations today on "Good Morning America," saying, "PBS made a huge mistake here."
PBS suspended the distribution of his eponymous talk show earlier this month after an investigation, noting "multiple, credible allegations," the network confirmed to ABC News in a statement.
During a live sit-down interview, Smiley, 53, reiterated that "I've never groped, I've never coerced" women into sexual relations on his staff "in 30 years over six different networks."
He added, "I celebrate and applaud these women who had the courage to come out," but he's concerned that because of the recent climate, "people end up being guilty simply by accusations."
A PBS spokesperson added, "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."
Smiley previously denied the allegations and criticized the investigation in a video posted to Facebook.
"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. "This has gone too far. And I, for one, intend to fight back."
"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. Never. Ever. Never," 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," Smiley added. "Their mind was made up."
But in a separate statement, PBS defended their investigation.
A sponsor for his talk show, Walmart, paused their relationship with him in light of the investigation.
"We take these issues very seriously and are troubled by the recent allegations," the company said in a statement obtained by ABC News. "As a result, we are suspending our relationship with Mr. Smiley, pending the outcome of the PBS investigation."
Walmart was also backing Smiley's upcoming tour, titled "Death of a King: A Live Theatrical Experience," based on his 2014 book of the same name. The show, centered on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., was expected to reach 40 cities nationwide until it was cancelled by its production company, according to a statement obtained by ABC News.
A statement from Mills Entertainment read, "In light of the recent allegations concerning Tavis Smiley, Mills Entertainment will not be moving forward with the 'Death of a King' project at this time. We believe deeply in the message of this production and the importance of commemorating Dr. King in this crucial moment; however, we take seriously the allegations and will be suspending our relationship with Tavis Smiley and T.S. Productions."
"The Tavis Smiley Show" has aired on PBS for 14 seasons.
Video Courtesy Of: ABC / Disney