CBS’s board hasn’t quite figured out what to do with Les Moonves, the network’s chairman and chief executive, following a bombshell report in the New Yorker detailing allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Though CBS has already agreed to launch an internal investigation into the allegations against Moonves, according to the New York Times, the board spent the weekend trying to decide how to carry out that investigation, and the size of its scope. And though Moonves is still currently in power, the Times says at least two of the 14 board members have suggested removing him from his position pending the investigation. The board says they will meet on Monday to discuss Moonves’s future with the network.
The New Yorker piece, which dropped on Friday and was authored by Ronan Farrow, outlined six women’s charges against Moonves, 68, who is long considered one of the most powerful men in television. The women interviewed alleged that Moonves tried to touch or kiss them, then threatened their careers if and when they declined. Actor Illeana Douglas, for instance, told Farrow that in 1997, Moonves tried to kiss her during a meeting about a TV pilot he’d hired her for, telling her, ““It’ll just be between you and me. Come on, you’re not some nubile virgin.” Moonves then allegedly started “violently kissing” her on a couch, and though she manage to shake him off, she was fired from the pilot a week later. She says Moonves told her she would “never work at this network again.”
“What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was fired for not participating,” she said, according to the New Yorker.
Moonves, who has been CBS’s chief executive since 2006, issued a statement in response to the New Yorker piece. “I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” he said. “Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.”
Moonves has received some support following Farrow’s piece, including from wife Julie Chen and CBS ad sales chief Jo Ann Ross. According to Deadline, CBS Films president Terry Press wrote on Facebook that “it is difficult to reconcile the portrait put forth in that piece with the man who I know today as honorable, compassionate, and a big booster of women inside CBS,” and though she will not “question the accounts put forth by the women” in the New Yorker piece, she hopes the collective “we” can discuss a path to learning, reconciliation, and forgiveness.”
Meanwhile, Farrow’s piece also delved into broader issues of sexual harassment at CBS, which the CBS board is expected to address.