Coverage: CBS CEO Moonves is out after more allegations
The CBS Corp. board worked on Sunday to remove its longtime chief executive, Leslie Moonves, whose fall from Hollywood’s highest echelon was all but sealed after the publication of new sexual harassment allegations against him.
Edmund Lee of The New York Times had the news:
The coming departure of Mr. Moonves marks a stunning reversal for an executive who has led the company for 15 years and is credited with turning CBS into television’s most-watched network. But he has been under intense pressure since July, when The New Yorker published an initial article in which six women accused him of sexual harassment.
For several weeks, Mr. Moonves has been grappling with two separate but equally fateful issues while negotiating a settlement with CBS Corporation’s board of directors on his exit. In addition to the multiple harassment allegations against him, Mr. Moonves has been involved in a protracted legal fight with the company’s controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone. The talks have included a potential payout that, while much less than the $184 million promised by his employment agreement, could still be as high as $100 million.
The size of the payout had been a source of contention in the negotiations, according to three people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a private bargaining agreement. The proposal includes a provision that would allow CBS to take back the money based on the results of an investigation into the allegations against Mr. Moonves, the people said.
Alex Horton of The Washington Post reported the New Yorker disclosed new sexual harassment allegations against Moonves:
In a report Sunday in the New Yorker, six women alleged incidents of sexual harassment and assault between the 1980s and early 2000s that included forced oral sex, exposing himself without consent and the use of physical violence and intimidation to silence them, Ronan Farrow reported. The article followed a similar New Yorker report from July featuring six other women.
The women also claim CBS has perpetuated a culture of downplaying accusations and fostering a hostile environment.
CBS Corp. did not return a request for comment.
Multiple news organizations reported Sunday that Moonves, who had been negotiating terms for his departure, will step down imminently. He would be the most prominent entertainment and media figure unseated by claims of sexual harassment in the wave of #MeToo allegations rocking the industry.
Dana Feldman of Forbes.com reported that Moonves will not receive any of his $100 severance package:
Within three hours after the publication of Farrow’s story, CNN reported that Moonves will step down from his position at CBS. A person familiar with the discussions said that Moonves will no longer receive any of his $100 million exit compensation, pending the results of the independent investigation into the allegations and that a portion of the amount he would have received will be donated to organizations focussed on sexual harassment and assault.
The timing of Farrow’s followup article was no coincidence, as the board of the CBS Corporation was reportedly very close to a settlement that would’ve cut ties with Moonves and ended the company’s lawsuit with parent company National Amusements, ahead of a court date on Oct. 3. These talks had been underway for well over a week at this point, and before this article came out, were expected to culminate tomorrow.
With claims as disturbing as these, an investigation should always supersede any payouts. Since Farrow’s August article on Moonves, the CBS board had hired two law firms to investigate the allegations raised, which included claims of misconduct at CBS News and the company overall. The board told Farrow it’s committed to a “thorough and independent investigation.”