Details are currently sparse, but there’s reportedly a Ronan Farrow New Yorker piece coming on CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, one of the most powerful men in media, including allegations of sexual misconduct.
The Hollywood Reporter scooped the New Yorker’s scoop: “Sources with knowledge of the article say it delves into the broader culture at CBS and will publish later today on the magazine’s website,” adding that, “The allegations are said in part to involve instances of unwanted kissing and touching that occurred more than 20 years ago, as well as numerous claims that occurred more recently.”
CBS provided a statement, which doesn’t actually mention Moonves by name:
CBS said in a statement that it is investigating the claims made against Moonves. “All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously,” the network stated. “The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the Company’s clear policies in that regard. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the Board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action.”
CBS added: “The timing of this report comes in the midst of the Company’s very public legal dispute. While that litigation process continues, the CBS management team has the full support of the independent board members. Along with that team, we will continue to focus on creating value for our shareowners.”
The New York Times provided some context on that aforementioned “very public legal dispute,” explaining:
Mr. Moonves, a former actor who rose through the ranks to lead CBS, is separately embroiled in a legal dispute with Shari Redstone, who controls the company. Mr. Moonves and the CBS board have sued Ms. Redstone to prevent her from trying to merge the network with Viacom, which she also controls. The lawsuit will play out in court this October.
CNBC reported that CBS stock promptly dropped seven percent upon news of the New Yorker article—which, again, hasn’t even published yet—while Viacom climbed 4.5 percent.
Update (6:20 p.m.) The New Yorker has published Ronan Farrow’s account of six women’s allegations of sexual misconduct against Leslie Moonves. As described by actor Illeana Douglas and the other women Farrow interviewed, Moonves’s actions followed a disturbing pattern.
Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine. Two told me that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers. All said that he became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.
Douglas, an actor who was nominated for an Emmy for her work in Six Feet Under and who enjoyed a working relationship with Martin Scorsese, described a scenario during which Moonves asked to kiss her during a business meeting and reportedly said “It’ll just be between you and me. Come on, you’re not some nubile virgin.” According to Douglas’s account, Moonves pinned her down on a couch, “violently kissing” her; she was able to eventually escape the situation. Eventually Douglas told Scorsese about what happened. His response was telling:
Distraught, Douglas called Scorsese and told him the story, saying that she wanted to hire a lawyer and sue Moonves. Scorsese said that he remembers Douglas calling him about the allegation and being shocked by it. Scorsese urged her to be cautious about taking legal action against such a powerful person, but agreed to refer her to his law firm.
The New Yorker report also details sexual harassment allegations in CBS’s news division, particularly on the set of 60 Minutes, where the show’s executive producer Jeff Fager reportedly allowed harassment in the division for years. Charlie Rose was fired from 60 Minutes and the network in 2017 after the Washington Post reported that he had sexually harassed eight women
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