Les Moonves To Step Down As CBS Chief Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations: Reports


Les Moonves, one of the most powerful men in media, is expected to step down as the chairman and CEO of CBS by Monday following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him, CNN and Variety reported Sunday.

Citing two executives "with direct knowledge of the matter," CNN said the CBS board of directors is expected to announce a deal for his exit by Monday morning. The move would come roughly a month after The New Yorker published an article alleging that Moonves harassed several women with unwanted kissing and touching and contributed to the network's overall toxic workplace culture.

CBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.

On Sunday, The New Yorkerpublished a second report describing additional accusations against Moonves brought by six other women. One of the women said Moonves forced her to perform oral sex on him while they worked together at Lorimar-Telepictures in the 1980s. She filed a criminal complaint with the Los Angeles Police Department last year, though prosecutors declined to pursue charges, citing expired statutes of limitations for the crimes.

While details of his departure are still emerging, CNBC reported in early September that the CBS board was offering Moonves a roughly $100 million exit package consisting nearly entirely of CBS stock, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

The sources added, however, that the CBS board was seeking the right to take back some of that money if the allegations against Moonves first detailed by The New Yorker proved true.

The magazine reported Sunday that Moonves would no longer receive any exit compensation, pending the outcome of CBS' internal investigation into the allegations. A portion of the money that would have gone toward his payout would instead be donated to Me Too initiatives.

The New Yorker's bombshell exposés by Ronan Farrow, whose reporting on sexual misconduct last year helped launch the Me Too movement, recounted some incidents that allegedly occurred more than 20 years ago, along with more recent allegations, from a total of 12 women. Some of the women said that when they rejected his forcible advances, Moonves became hostile toward them and caused their careers to suffer.

Shortly before the first piece was published, CBS issued a statement that it was looking into claims that the company's code of conduct had been violated.

"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.

Moonves, 68, had been with CBS since 1995 and was named chairman in 2016. As head of the network, he oversaw the company's entertainment division, news broadcasts and online content.

Prior to the sexual misconduct allegations, Moonves was criticized for comments he made about the effect that Donald Trump's presidential candidacy had on CBS' ratings during the 2016 campaign.

"Sorry, it's a terrible thing to say, but bring it on, Donald. Keep going," Moonves said during a March 2016 conference.

"It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS," he said.

At the time, Trump was commanding more minutes than other candidates during nearly every GOP primary debate and had been afforded plentiful free airtime by calling in to many talk show programs. In many of these interviews, his track record of making xenophobic, racist and often false comments went unchallenged.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


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