Transcript for Tavis Smiley fires back at sexual harassment allegations: 'PBS made a huge mistake'
that. That me too plouffement has led to a group of men who left projects amid sexual misconduct projects and Tavis smiley is here firing back after accusations of misconduct that led to his suspension from his pbs talk show. First ABC's linsey Davis has the very latest for us. Good morning. Reporter: Good morning. These days allegations of misconduct alone set in motion a toppling of dominos for men like Tavis smiley who says he's not guilty. ??? he's the award-winning sometimes controversial host known for hard-hitting questions. You think that the government assistance that goes to these babies outstrips the billions of dollars generated in this income by the work done by undocumented workers. Reporter: Tavis smiley is hitting back. I have never groped, inappropriately exposed myself or coerced any colleague in the workplace ever in my 30-year career. Reporter: Investigate rossly defending himself in this Facebook video after bbs indefinitely suspended distribution while investigating allegations smiley engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates. Those of those reportedly claim they believe their jobs depended on their sexual relationship with him and he created a verb verbally abusive and threatening environment. Pbs launched this so-called investigation of me without telling me about it. Reporter: Pbs tells ABC news following seat of a complaint pbs hired an independent law firm to conduct an investigation and we stand by its integrity. Saying that the investigation revealed multiple sexual relationships with subordinates over many years and other acts that together constitute a pattern of conduct inconsistent with our values. Walmart said they are troubled by the recent allegations and will be cutting ties with smiley pending the outcome of pbs' investigation. As the fallout continues for the 53-year-old broadcaster, he says pbs rushed to judgment and trampled on a reputation he spent a lifetime trying to establish. Time for a real conversation in this country about where the lines are, about how men and women can engage each other in the workplace. Reporter: Mills entertainment confirms they are no longer moving forward with Tavis smiley's "Death of a king" and hey house has told us they put all of smiley's projects on hold pending an internal review of the facts, Paula. Thank you very much for reporting. We want to welcome Tavis smiley to the studio. Thanks for joining us. First and foremost you deny any wrongdoing. Absolutely. I have never groped. I have never coerced or exposed myself to anyone inappropriately. There's never been any allegation of that. I celebrate and applaud the women that came out and told the truth and lead us to create healthy workspaces. At the same time I want to make sure we don't lose all proportionality in this because if we do people end up guilty by accusations. You admit to having consensual sexual relationships with subordinates. Can you understand how that could be an abuse of power? Certainly. I understand who people have a VI viewpoint any consensual sexual relationship in the workplace is wrong. I hear that point of view and I respect it but there are other points of view on this. My company, let me be clear, I own my company. Pbs distributes it. In our employee handbook while we do not encourage office relationships we don't forbid them either and don't forbid them because I don't know where your heart will lead you or who you will hang out with or date. Many met their spouses at work. How can you be certain these women didn't feel they would lose their job. I never gave any favoritism upward or downward. Never promoted anybody -- Did you ever fire anyone you were in a relationship with. First of all I own the company and there is a team that own the company and have never given anyone any instruction to do anything to anyone -- You didn't fire anyone with whom you had a relationship with. Any of them you had a relationship with is still on your staff. One person is, yes. Were you ever told by a peer, the subordinate or employer/employee anything you did or said made them feel uncomfortable. Never. Sources tell ABC news you have been accused of sexually explicit messages and unwelcome banter about women's bees. So what are we talking about. I have no idea. I sat -- Did you ever send lewd text messages. No. In a consensual relationships we do that but never to an employee. You also created a verbally abusive threatening environment. What's your response. Not true. I have an intense environment. I have a speaker's bureau and book imprint and so it's an intense environment. Some of the most intense places are in control rooms around this country. That's not for everyone. So it might be that the environment wasn't good for you. These are intense at times and I hate the word brand. I may be the brand, the face but I'm not an inanimate object. When the ball gets dropped on something I have to deal with those. Those might be intense but I'm not an angry black man and this notion of a hostile workplace doesn't fit. You called the pbs investigation sloppy and upset they didn't tell you that was going on but say you weren't aloud to show they were proof. What kind of proof do you have. I think anyone who's been in one can prove it with letter, cards, gifts and certainly photographs. But pbs only agreed to talk to me after weeks of investigation which they didn't tell me about. Let's back up for a second. Are they supposed to tell you they're investigating you? Do they have to. They never informed me a complaint was alleged. I was never told there was an investigation. I found out about it from former staffers who were getting strange phone calls averaging strange questions so I was unaware of it to begin with. But after finding out about it my attorneys contacted the pbs investigators and offered to have me come talk to them. They did this for weeks and refused to talk to me. They were prepared to close this investigation without talking to me only under the threat of lawsuit did they agree to sit down and talk to me and when they did they talked to me for three hour answer never told me who the accusers were, never allowed me to provide information. Is it important to know who they are. It's important to sit in a meeting and at least understand what we're talking about. If we're talking for three hours and all the questions are vague and no specificity, no persons, place, time, hard for three hours to know what you're talking about. Most of your employees had to sign nondisclosures. They feel threatened. They're scared to come forward and publicly reveal who they are. Well, I'm not sure I believe that, number one but number two, all I'm saying an investigation for three hours. If I don't know what we're talking about and there's no specificity how can I answer the questions so I answered to the best of my ability but it gets worse than that. When this meeting was over which only happened under the threat of a lawsuit they did not intend nor ever intended to talk to me or my current staff, didn't talk to my hr person, anyone who thought something happened to them for whatever reason, no complaints were ever filed, number one and, number two, this investigation did not include talking to anyone on my current staff and the minute that three-hour minute was over, within minutes almost within an hour and a half I think pbs acknowledged to us, sent a letter to my attorneys they were using a clause in my contract to no longer distribute my show. 12 minutes thereafter this story posted on "Variety." I don't know how you write it, research and get quotes from unnamed sources presumably at pbs and put links in the story and do all that in 12 minutes. Something is awry here. Do you regret anything that you've done? Other, absolutely. I've made mistakes and written two books about all the mistakes I made in my career. I recall once sitting this a conversation with a person would was interested in being a producer on our show, supposed to be a short 30-minute meeting. At the end I said my lord, you're brilliant, smart, gorgeous and I think I'd rather date you than you work for me. I apologized and the situation was resolved. I'm human, not perfect. But it doesn't rise to the level of wrongful termination. If they reinstate you, will you go back. I don't know. Pbs made a huge mistake and Teed to correct it but I don't know the answer. Sounds like you're willing to go pretty far to fight it. I'll do anything to protect my reputation. Tavis smiley, thank you very much.
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