Media Moves

Coverage: CBS CEO Moonves hit with sexual harassment allegations

July 30, 2018

Posted by Chris Roush

CBS Corp.’s board of directors is reportedly set to discuss allegations of sexual misconduct against Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves on Monday, separate reports said, with one publication reporting that the company is weighing whether Moonves should step aside pending a formal investigation.

Thomas Franck of had the news:

Ahead of its quarterly earnings this week, the board is scheduled to meet via conference call this Monday and is expected to select a special committee to oversee the investigation, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. The publication added that several directors have mulled whether Moonves — one of the most powerful men in media — should leave his post.

It remains unclear whether the media company’s controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone, will make an appearance at the regularly scheduled meeting, according to a separate report in Deadline, which first reported on the board’s plans to address the allegations. Moonvesand Redstone have been waging a public and hostile war over CBS’s attempts to stem Redstone’s control over company.

News of the allegations first broke Friday, and included accounts of six women over multiple decades.The New Yorker report cited six women who said the longtime media executive harassed them between the ’80s and ’00s.

Trey Williams and Itay Hod of The Wrap reported that Moonves is no longer “untouchable”:

“There are people in high places who have taken a mighty fall,” said Lloyd Greif, founder and CEO of Greif & Co., an investment banking firm specializing in media and entertainment mergers. “It doesn’t look good for Moonves and, yes, this could very well take him down.”

“If that’s the case, you can assume he’ll get a helping hand from Viacom. They won’t be sad to see him leave,” Greif told TheWrap. “He’s the traffic cop hailing you his hand to stop the merger between the two companies, and the problem with traffic cops is that sometimes they [get] hit by a car.”

Amobi said that if someone as powerful as Weinstein could be forced out of his own company, Moonves should be worried, too.

Farrow said 30 current and former CBS employees told him “that such behavior extended from Moonves to important parts of the corporation, including CBS News and ’60 Minutes.’” Farrow reports that 19 current and former employees said Jeff Fager, the former chairman of CBS News and the current executive producer of “60 Minutes,” allowed harassment within the network’s news arm.

Charlie Gasparino and Matthew Kazin of Fox Business reported that internal candidates to replace Moonves are “weak”:

If the 68-year-old Moonves, who has been at the helm of CBS since 2006, is let go as a result of the findings from the probe, the company’s future would be thrust into disarray. A former senior CBS executive told FOX Business that the chances are significant that Moonves will be replaced given the seriousness of the allegations and the public outrage over sexual harassment which has fueled the #metoo movement.

But he added that internal candidates are “weak,” and while Moonves had planned to sell CBS to a larger outfit, people close to the company tell FOX Business, that would be put on hold as well.

Meanwhile, the likelihood that CBS will merge with Viacom will grow. While Redstone, the daughter of National Amusement’s founder Sumner Redstone, has pushed to merge the two companies, Moonves has vehemently opposed the move, leading CBS to battle the matter in court, which is ongoing. A trial is scheduled for Oct. 3 in Delaware.

Analysts believe a weakened Moonves could make it more likely that the two companies will eventually merge, an outcome that many investors believe will be bad for CBS shareholders since it’s considered to have far superior programming than Viacom.


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