Published: Sat, July 28, 2018
Entertaiment | By Minnie Bishop

CBS CEO Les Moonves accused of sexual misconduct amid 'culture of impunity'

CBS CEO Les Moonves accused of sexual misconduct amid 'culture of impunity'

Multiple women have come forward to accuse CBS chairman Leslie Moonves, 68, of sexual misconduct, including instances of alleged unwanted kissing and touching, in an exposé by Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker. Actress Illeana Douglas says in 1997, Moonves attempted to hold her down and forcibly kiss her. Writer Janet Jones says he "threw himself on top of me". "He said, 'No, just you and me.' He said, 'You're very expensive, and I need to know you're worth it, '" she said.

Last year, CBS was the most watched network in the United States, although it dropped into third place, behind NBC and Fox for adults aged 18-49.

When asked for comment by ABC News on the anticipated report, the company's independent board of directors said it would investigate the accusations.

Farrow reported that Jeff Fager, Executive Producer of "60 Minutes", protected men accused of misconduct, including men who reported to him. The story also describes a culture at CBS that's permissive of sexual misconduct, particularly in the CBS News division.

In May it emerged that CBS managers had been warned about Rose's conduct on three occasions, as early as in 1986 and as recently as in April 2017.

He transformed CBS over the past two decades, building it into a ratings powerhouse - it has been the No. 1 network in total viewers for 10 consecutive years. It took issue in a statement with the New Yorker article, however, for not accurately representing "a larger organization that does its best to treat its tens of thousands of employees with dignity and respect".

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YouTube issued Jones a "strike", meaning he is unable to livestream content for three months. Those four videos have since been removed from Jones' channels.

Farrow's piece said all the women quoted in the article had to overcome "a lot of fear of retaliation to tell very serious stories of sexual misconduct about Les Moonves". The damage may be hard to reverse for the network, which undoubtedly has quite the legal battle ahead. By 1993, Moonves was named president of Warner Brothers Television, where he helped develop such massive hits as "E.R." and "Friends".

Following the allegations, Moonves acknowledged "times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances".

On Friday, in response to the expected Farrow report, the independent directors of the board said they would look into the charges made in the forthcoming article. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely.

CBS' Julie Chen, his wife since 2004, issued a statement of full support. The statement added: "We will continue to focus on creating value for our shareowners".

CBSi and Entertainment Tonight are both owned by CBS. Redstone denied that she had anything to do with the report.

Jo Ann Ross, one of the highest-ranked female executives at CBS, has voiced her support for long-time boss, Leslie Moonves, in the wake of a The New Yorker's expose of the CBS Corp. CEO.

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