As the ripples from the splash of the Me Too movement continue to shed light on the issues surrounding the entertainment industry, yet another network has found itself in some incredibly hot water.
CBS chairman and CEO Leslie “Les” Moonves has officially left the network following sexual misconduct allegations stretching back to the 80s. “Moonves will not receive any severance benefits at this time (other than certain fully accrued and vested compensation and benefits),” CBS said in a statement about Moonves’ departure.
The allegations against Moonves first surfaced in a piece published in The New Yorker in July, which claimed that six women came forward with claims. He quickly denied the allegations, but admitted he may have acted “inappropriately.”
“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,” he said. “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.”
He then claimed that half of the relationships in question were “consensual.”
“What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS,” he told The New Yorker. “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.”
Now, six more women have come forward with allegations against Moonves, leading him to depart from the network. In announcing his departure from CBS, Moonves wished nothing but the best for the company.
“Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am. Effective immediately I will no longer be Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS. I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company. I wish nothing but the best for the organization, the newly comprised board of directors and all of its employees.”
Moonves will be temporarily replaced by CBS’ chief operation officer, Joseph Ianniello, until a permanent replacement can be found. The board is currently reviewing the findings from the investigations on Moonves.