Tavis Smiley says he never groped anyone.
After PBS suspended the long-running talk show host over allegations of sexual misconduct, Smiley continued to maintain his innocence.
Smiley has denied any wrongdoing and insisted that his record was clean.
‘I have never exposed myself inappropriately’
During an interview on Good Morning America, Smiley once again defended himself against the mounting accusations.
“I have never groped, I have never coerced, I have never exposed myself inappropriately to anyone. In 30 years, over six different networks, there has never been any allegation of that,” Smiley said.
But, he said, he still supported the #MeToo movement and the many women who spoke out against men who sexually harassed or assaulted them.
“I celebrate and applaud these women who’ve had the courage to come out and tell their truth and lead us in a conversation about how to create healthy workspaces,” he said.
“At the same time, I want to make sure that we don’t lose all sense of nuance and proportionality in this conversation, because if we do, then people end up being guilty simply by accusation,” Smiley added.
Tavis Smiley pushes back against allegations of sexual misconduct: “I have never groped, I have never coerced, I have never exposed myself inappropriately…I celebrate and applaud these women who’ve had the courage to come out and tell their truth.” pic.twitter.com/VNuxgQczrS
— Good Morning America (@GMA) December 18, 2017
Smiley has, however, admitted to having relationships with women who were his subordinates at his company. When asked if he could see how that might be an abuse of power, Smiley admitted that he understood that viewpoint but insisted that “office relationships” were not forbidden.
“We don’t forbid them, Paula, because I don’t know where your heart’s going to lead you,” Smiley insisted. “I don’t know who you’re going to hang out with or date or fall in love with.”
As for whether or not the women he dated felt their jobs might be in danger, Smiley insisted, “I have never given anyone any employment instruction to do anything with anyone with whom I had a consensual relationship. Ever.”
Smiley also denied allegations of verbal abuse and a hostile environment at his offices.
“These environments are intense at times..so when the ball drops I have to deal with that,” Smiley explained. “I’m not an angry Black man. This notion of a hostile environment just doesn’t fit.”
A botched investigation
Smiley also blasted PBS for the way they handled the investigation into the allegations against him.
In particular, Smiley expressed his frustration that PBS did not tell him about the investigation or even inform him of the allegations so he could defend himself.
“Only under threat of lawsuit did they agree to sit down and talk to me,” Smiley said, lamenting the fact that PBS did not allow him the chance to prove that his relationships were consensual.
Smiley claimed that PBS had more or less already decided to push him out, and that “the minute that three-hour meeting was over,” PBS announced that they would stop distributing his show.
“PBS made a huge mistake here,” Smiley said.