Tavis Smiley has defended what he said were consensual workplace relationships after PBS announced it had suspended his show following an investigation that “uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards” of the network.
Appearing on “CNN Tonight” Monday evening, Smiley told anchor Don Lemon, “I am not Harvey Weinstein.”
Prominent movie producer Weinstein is one of many powerful men who have lost their jobs and faced public outcry amid a wave of sexual harassment and assault accusations. But Smiley maintained that in his case the accusations — namely that he had sexual relationships with subordinates and some felt their employment status was tied to their relationship with him — aren’t credible.
Smiley said that after a Monday morning appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” during which he said PBS rushed to judgment in his case, the network had asked to meet with his staff to further their investigation.
“The allegations have always been anonymous to me,” said Smiley.
“What I have said consistently again, is I have never groped, coerced or exposed myself to anyone. I’ve never instructed anyone in my company to take any employment decision based upon my relationship status. The bottom line is they did a sloppy investigation and now they want to come back and continue what they should have done before they made this rush to judgment decision.”
When pressed by Lemon, Smiley said even the question of how many colleagues he’d had consensual relationships with “conflates consensual relationships with sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.”
“There’s so many relationships in this country that were started in the workplace,” he said. “Henry Kissinger met his wife in the workplace. Bill Gates met his wife in the workplace. We all know Barack Obama met Michelle Obama in the workplace.”