PBS has suspended airing of the late-night talk show “Tavis Smiley” while it investigates allegations of misconduct against Smiley, the show’s host.
Variety first reported that PBS said the show has been suspended indefinitely, as of Wednesday.
The network released this statement:
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.
Investigators said that after interviewing 10 current and former employees of Smiley, they found credible allegations that the host had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates, according to Variety.
Some witnesses said they were concerned that employment status was linked to whether they had sex with Smiley.
The host was also accused of creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment that went above and beyond the typical high-pressure workplace.
In a statement posted late Wednesday, Smiley denied any sexual misconduct and accused PBS of conducting “a biased and sloppy investigation.”
“I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth,” Smiley said in a Facebook post. “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.”
“Tavis Smiley” has aired nightly on various PBS stations since 2004, but the network only distributes the show and doesn’t finance its production or employ Smiley or his employees.
Former producer Jacques Hyzagi critically described working for Smiley in a piece published earlier this year for Observer.com.
Hyzagi said Smiley’s “misogyny is always creeping around, barely camouflaged by Midwestern good manners,” and mentioned how the host referred to a woman he picked up in an Orlando airport as a “fuck buddy.”
He also said that Smiley considered himself bulletproof with PBS.
“I’m the only black on PBS,” Hyzagi quoted Smiley as saying. “They can’t touch me. They also know that I’m the only black talk show host in America, and they like to have this privilege.”
Deadline.com notes that Smiley signed an exclusive multi-year development and production pod deal with Warner Brothers TV to develop scripted TV series for broadcast and cable.
It’s unclear whether the allegations against Smiley will affect that deal.
This article has been updated to include Smiley’s statement.