Three hours after The New Yorker published sexual misconduct allegations against CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves today, “CNN reported that Moonves would step down from his position at CBS,” The New Yorker reports.
The story reports: “Later [today, Sunday, Sept. 9], CBS announced that Moonves had left the company and would not receive any of his exit compensation, pending the results of the independent investigation into the allegations. The company named six new members of its board of directors and said it would donate $20 million to organizations that support the #MeToo movement and workplace equality for women. The donation will be deducted from any severance payments that may be due to Moonves.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, CBS Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will serve as president and acting chief while the board conducts a search for a permanent successor for Moonves.
THR adds: “CBS also said it reached a settlement agreement with National Amusements Inc. and that five current independent directors and one NAI-affiliated director have stepped down from the board. Six new independent directors have been elected in their place: Candace Beinecke, Barbara Byrne, Brian Goldner, Richard D. Parsons, Susan Schuman and Strauss Zelnick. The new board will be comprised of 11 independent directors and two NAI-affiliated directors.”
Among those stepping down from the CBS board are David Andelman, Charles Gifford, Leonard Goldberg, Arnold Kopelson and Doug Morris.
THR also reports: “In addition, NAI confirmed that it has no plans to propose a merger of CBS and Viacom and has agreed that it will make no such proposal for at least two years after the date of the settlement, CBS said. NAI reaffirmed that it will give good faith consideration to any business combination transaction or other strategic alternative that the independent directors believe are in the best interests of the company and its stockholders.”
In the article The New Yorker published Sunday Ronan Farrow reports: “Six additional women are now accusing Moonves of sexual harassment or assault in incidents that took place between the nineteen-eighties and the early aughts. They include claims that Moonves forced them to perform oral sex on him, that he exposed himself to them without their consent, and that he used physical violence and intimidation against them. A number of the women also said that Moonves retaliated after they rebuffed him, damaging their careers.”
Farrow adds: “One of the women with allegations against Moonves, a veteran television executive named Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, told me that she filed a criminal complaint late last year with the Los Angeles Police Department, accusing Moonves of physically restraining her and forcing her to perform oral sex on him, and of exposing himself to her and violently throwing her against a wall in later incidents. The two worked together in the late nineteen-eighties. Law-enforcement sources told me that they found Golden-Gottlieb’s allegations credible and consistent but prosecutors declined to pursue charges because the statutes of limitations for the crimes had expired. Early this year, Moonves informed a portion of the CBS board about the criminal investigation.”
According to The New Yorker, in response to the allegations Moonves released a statement in which he “acknowledged three of the encounters, but said that they were consensual: ‘The appalling accusations in this article are untrue. What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS. And I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women. In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career. Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me.’ Moonves declined to specify which three encounters he considered consenual.”
A statement released jointly by CBS and NAI on Sunday says, in part: “Lead Independent Director Bruce Gordon said, ‘We thank Les for his 24 years of service. Among his achievements, he established a strong management team, giving us great confidence as we accelerate our succession plans and provide continuity of leadership. This agreement maintains an independent Board that is charged with determining the best course for the future of CBS on behalf of all shareholders.'”
Here’s the only other reference in the statement to Moonves’ departure: “Leslie Moonves will depart as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer effective immediately. Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will serve as President and Acting CEO while the Board conducts a search for a permanent successor. Mr. Ianniello, who joined the Company in 2005, has been COO of CBS since June 2013. The Chairman position will remain open pending the appointment of a permanent CEO.
“Moonves and CBS will donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace. The donation, which will be made immediately, has been deducted from any severance benefits that may be due Moonves following the Board’s ongoing independent investigation led by Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton. Moonves will not receive any severance benefits at this time (other than certain fully accrued and vested compensation and benefits); any payments to be made in the future will depend upon the results of the independent investigation and subsequent Board evaluation.”
There is no mention in the statement of what the investigation is about. To read the full CBS statement, please click here.
We also urge you to read Farrow’s complete article, which you can find here.