CBS investigating sexual misconduct allegations against CEO Les Moonves

'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'

Saturday 28 July 2018 18:07
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The American cable TV network CBS is investigating sexual misconduct allegations made against its chief executive Les Moonves, triggering a 6 per cent fall in the company’s stock value.

An article in The New Yorker magazine reported that six women who had professional dealings with Moonves said he sexually harassed them between the 1980s and late 2000s.

Four of the women described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, while two said that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers, according to the author.

Actress Illeana Douglas, writer Janet Jones and producer Christine Peters were among the women quoted in the article.

It was written by Ronan Farrow, who won a Pulitzer prize last year for uncovering many of the allegations against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who has denied all charges against him.

Mr Farrow told The Associated Press that all the women quoted in the article had had to overcome “a lot of fear of retaliation to tell very serious stories of sexual misconduct about Les Moonves”.

In a statement, the media company said: “All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously.” It added that independent members of its board of directors are “investigating claims that violate the company’s clear policies” regarding personal misconduct.

“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,” the statement read.

However, it took issue with The New Yorker article for what it said did not accurately represent ”a larger organisation that does its best to treat its tens of thousands of employees with dignity and respect.”

Mr Moonves acknowledged in a statement that there were occasions decades ago when he may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances, but he said: “Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely.”

He said that he never misused his position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.

The New Yorker article also said a culture of misconduct extended from Moonves to other parts of the corporation, including CBS News. It said men in that division who were accused of sexual misconduct were promoted, even as the company paid settlements to women who had made complaints.

Moonves is the latest media giant to become embroiled in sexual misconduct allegations since the downfall of Weinstein in October triggered the #MeToo social media movement.

In November, CBS fired veteran news host Charlie Rose over allegations he had groped women, walked naked in front of them and made lewd phone calls. Rose has apologised for his behaviour but questioned the accuracy of some of the claims.

In December, Moonves joned a meeting of chief executives of nearly every major Hollywood studio, TV network and record label to establish a commission to comb sexual misconduct in the industry. They agreed to fund the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, and chose Anita Hill to chair it.

CBS Corp’s stock fell 6 per cent – its worst one-day loss in nearly seven years – as the reports of the misconduct allegations began to circulate around noon Friday, triggering investor concerns Moonves might be forced to step down.

The CBS chief has been a towering figure in television for decades, credited with turning around a network that had been mired at the bottom of national ratings for years.

With Associated Press

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