Dr. Phil is speaking out against allegations of a toxic work environment on the set of his eponymous daytime talk show.
On Thursday, Feb. 10, BuzzFeed News published a lengthy report that included claims from current and former Dr. Phil staffers over experiences of verbal abuse, fear and intimidation while on the job. Past and present employees interviewed by the outlet, almost all of whom chose to remain anonymous, said that none of them had ever witnessed Dr. Phil personally engaging in abusive behavior, though they claimed it was common for senior staffers to yell and berate others for small mistakes.
Other allegations published in the article included experiences of racism behind-the-scenes and claims that employees were instructed to manipulate guests.
In separate statements to E! News, representatives for both Dr. Phil and his show denied the allegations and accused BuzzFeed of publishing a "clickbait story."
H. Patrick Morris, an attorney for the 71-year-old talk show host, said in a statement to E! News, "BuzzFeed was offered dozens of current and former staff to talk to but when the reporter started hearing the truth which ruined their salacious narrative they declined. Dr. Phil takes every guest and their circumstances very seriously and spends enormous amounts of time preparing for his time with them, including consulting with world class experts."
Morris continued, "Dr. Phil focuses on content for the program and doesn't get involved in staff relations, but the staff at the program in no way use ethnic origin such as described," adding that claims of "manipulation" are "ridiculous" and that "guests find a caring place, a safe place to face their challenges, even if told what they need to hear instead of what want [sic] to hear."
In the statement, the attorney also refuted allegations of racism on set, calling them an "absurd, ridiculous attention grab" perpetuated by BuzzFeed.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the show said in another statement to E! News that BuzzFeed's story contains "verifiably and objectively false characterizations," describing it as a "sensationalized and baseless article."
"Dr. Phil and our hard-working, diverse team of more than 200 proud staff, many of whom have been here for two decades, have sincerely and respectfully worked with thousands of appreciative guests," the spokesperson said. "From the beginning, show executives have strived to create a collaborative, safe, and open environment for Dr. Phil McGraw and all staff and guests."
Dr. Phil first premiered in 2002, after the host gained popularity as a guest expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2018, it was renewed through to 2023 in a four-season deal, according to Deadline.
E! News reached out to Peteski Productions, which produces the show, and ViacomCBS for comment but did not hear back. BuzzFeed had no comment when reached by E! News.