A lot of powerful men have been taken down by good reporting in the past 10 months and this weekend, The New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow — the reporter behind the original Harvey Weinstein story — exposed yet another one. Several women have come out against CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie “Les” Moonves, accusing him of inappropriate conduct, sexual assault and threatening or derailing their careers in response to rejection. They also called out a general culture among executives at CBS wherein the men protected and promoted each other while women were harassed and dismissed.
Allegations of harassment at CBS and against its chairman, Les Moonves, have surfaced in the wake of the #MeToo movement. 6 women told @ronanfarrow that, between the ’80s and the late aughts, Moonves sexually harassed them: https://t.co/xQ5juXIti2 pic.twitter.com/4M8ysRo85l
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) July 27, 2018
The article names three women — actress Illeana Douglas, writer Janet Jones and producer Christine Peters — who all tell similar stories of scheduled business meetings with Moonves where he forcibly kissed them in a clearly planned-out scenario, then threatened their careers when they rejected his advances. Three other women also came forward with similar allegations but chose to stay anonymous. The incidents occurred over several decades from the 1980s to the late 2000s. Over that period, Mooves was married to Nancy Wiesenfeld (from 1978 to 2004) and Julie Chen (since 2004).
The New Yorker included a response to the allegations from Moonves who admitted to “kissing” in some of the instances, but denied anything bordering on the definition of “sexual assault.” For some of the women, Peters in particular, Moonves denied any intimacy at all.
“Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company,” he wrote in a statement, “I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. 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. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”
In the past, Moonves has acted as an ally and advocate for women coming forward in the Me Too movement. At the end of last year, he called this a “watershed moment” and helped found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace (which has since distanced itself from Moonves). The executive’s pro-Me Too statements and actions came a month after Charlie Rose was ousted from CBS for his inappropriate advances and harassment of women at his show Charlie Rose.
these statements from female CBS executives in support of Les Moonves are chilling. they serve only to confirm the deeply backwards and sexist culture of CBS. pic.twitter.com/zI2kP5PMQJ
— Amanda Hess (@amandahess) July 28, 2018
1) Ronan Farrow exposé on CBS CEO Les Moonves sexual harassment published this morning.
2) CBS stock does this:
If there’s anything that could make sexual harassment stop, it is rich people losing money. pic.twitter.com/M9XoqbDazB
— JRehling (@JRehling) July 27, 2018
Horrifying Ronan Farrow story in New Yorker about multiple women who accused Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, of sexual assault & retaliation. Also terrible stuff about Jeff Fager, exec producer of 60 minutes. Mad Men stuff. Believable, nauseating, depressing.
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) July 28, 2018
CBS executives are meeting Monday to determine what action to take in light of the allegations and an investigation into Moonves’ behvaiour at the company over the years already been launched.