Reported by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow, the investigation details incidents of unwanted kissing and touching by Moonves, as well as intimidation, across multiple decades. An excerpt from the article reads:
Six women who had professional dealings with him told me that, between the nineteen-eighties and the late aughts, Moonves sexually harassed them. Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine. Two told me that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers. All said that he became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.
Four women — Illeana Douglas, Janet Jones, Christine Peters and Dinah Kirgo — spoke on the record with Farrow. Moonves responded to their allegations with the following statement, in which he admits he “may have made some women uncomfortable” throughout his career, but “never misused [his] position” to stop any woman’s career in its tracks:
Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.
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Big Brother host/The Talk panelist Julie Chen, who has been married to Moonves since 2004, issued a statement of her own on Friday, saying, “Leslie is a good man and a loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader… I fully support my husband and stand behind him and his statement.”
Farrow’s investigation into CBS and Moonves had been rumored for several months. Ahead of the article’s publication, it was reported Friday morning that the expose would include allegations against Moonves, which prompted the Independent Directors of CBS’ Board to issue the following statement:
All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously. The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the Company’s clear policies in that regard. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involved recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the Board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action.
Moonves, who also serves as CBS Corporation’s CEO and Chairman of the Board, is not the first CBS staple to be accused of sexual harassment. In November 2017, journalist Charlie Rose was accused by multiple women of making inappropriate phone calls, exposing himself and groping them without their consent over a 20-year period. Both CBS and PBS quickly severed ties with him.