On Sunday, CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl addressed members of the press at the Television Critics Association summer tour. He says it’s been a “tough week,” referring to what can only be interpreted as, oh, what to do about many sexual abuse allegations against Les Moonves, the network’s CEO and one of the most powerful men in television. A week after a New Yorker exposé detailed six women’s accounts of harassment and sexual assault, repercussions for Moonves remain a question mark. Moonves has admitted to making “sexual advances” decades ago but denied allegations that he used his power to “harm or hinder anyone’s career.” That runs contrary to the story of Illeana Douglas, for one, who has claimed that he told her she “would never work at this network again” days after she evaded Moonves’s advances.
The CBS board has announced that it has hired two law firms to launch investigations. But on Friday, the Los Angeles Times revealed that board members had already been aware of a previous LAPD investigation into a sexual assault allegation against Moonves (no charges were brought). Other powerful men at CBS, such as 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, have been accused time and time again of fostering a culture of sexual harassment. Vulture reported that three investigations have been launched into allegations against NCIS: New Orleans executive producer Brad Kern, and even after the first two, CBS continued its relationship with Kern. He was suspended in June after the third investigation began, although Vox reports that he is still collecting checks.
This morning, Kahl basically dismissed the issue. Per The Wrap:
CBS Studios investigated Brad Kern in 2016. Action was taken after that investigation and, you know, there have been no complaints since. I’m troubled and frustrated that reports continue to come out in the press. And because of that we’ve opened up another investigation with outside counsel. The goal of any investigation, internal or external, is to get to the truth, and I believe they will get to truth.
He added about Moonves:
Leslie has been an excellent boss and a mentor for a long time, and he put me in this job. At the same time, you must respect the voices who come forward. All allegations need to be and are being taken seriously.
But then he also made a point to mention that several women in the company “were saddened by what they heard” and have told him that the New Yorker story “does not represent their experience at CBS.”
He described CBS as a “collaborative, inclusive and safe workplace.”
Moonves has stepped down from the industry-wide Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality. Hurrah.