Tavis Smiley on dating employees: ‘Where else are you going to meet people?’

Longtime PBS host Tavis Smiley on Monday defended the possibility of engaging in consensual workplace relationships amid an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

“Let’s face it, nobody is working 40-hour weeks anymore, we are working 40-, 50-, 70-, 80-hour weeks. Where else are you going to meet people in this business?” Smiley said on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

“Our business itself is full of people, producers and talk show hosts who met on the job,” he added, pointing out how his workplace did not “forbid” or “encourage interoffice relationships.”


PBS in a statement last week announced it would suspend Smiley while an outside law firm investigated allegations made against him.

“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,” PBS said. 

Smiley acknowledged that he has engaged in several relationships with his employees after “30 years of being in the business,” but he maintained he is not guilty of sexual harassment.

He blasted the initial inquiry PBS conducted into the accusations, saying the network never gave him a chance to respond to the claims and that he still doesn’t know where the complaints originated.

Smiley also described a “sloppy investigation” in which investigators have not interviewed his current staff members, only former employees. He said the investigators “rejected” his request to meet with him and his lawyers for weeks until they threatened a lawsuit.

“I was never told what the accusations were, who the accusers were. I was never allowed to provide any data or evidence to debunk anything that perhaps I could have debunked if I had known what we were talking about anyway,” he said, adding that PBS “didn’t give me a due process.”

“Clearly when we went into that meeting, PBS had already made up its mind without talking to me early on in the investigation process,” he continued.

Smiley also warned that if this matter does end up in court, PBS will spend “millions of taxpayer dollars” to defend itself — which he suggested is not how “taxpayers want their money spent.”


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