Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, has been accused of sexual misconduct by six different women. Moonves has been a powerful figure at CBS for two decades, climbing the corporate ladder before taking over as chairman in 2016. Over the course of his career, he has had creative involvement in some of CBS’s most popular shows, such as 60 Minutes and The Big Bang Theory. He is considered one of the most powerful media executives in the industry.
The #MeToo Movement has brought down a number of executives like Moonves, beginning in fall 2017 with Harvey Weinstein. The heinous corporate culture of misogyny being brushed under the rug for decades is becoming harder to cover up. News about powerful men using their status inappropriately is common these days, but Moonves was a particularly vocal advocate for the #MeToo movement and all it has done. He was one of the founders of the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, created last year to combat sexual misconduct, making these accusations all the more surprising.
The New Yorker details numerous accounts from women in the industry who claim Moonves made unwanted advances towards them. The interviews were conducted over the past eight months, with up to 30 people reporting a culture of ignorance to sexual misconduct and six women detailing sexual assault/harrassment by Moonves. Among those women were writers Janet Jones and Illeana Douglas, the latter of which won an Emmy for her work on Six Feet Under. Most of the women recounted stories of Moonves physically pinning them and forcefully kissing them. Many of the accusers also felt that their sexual relationship with Moonves was a determining factor in their career, that they would be risking their jobs by refusing him. The reported assaults occurred over a 20-year span during Moonves’ tenure at CBS.
In the article, Moonves actually responded to the accusations, admitting that there were indeed instances in his past when he believes he behaved inappropriately, but that he never used his position to intimidate anyone. Moonves claims:
"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."
CBS is currently launching an investigation into the matter to determine disciplinary action for Moonves and the other executives at the company who allowed the misconduct to continue. This could mean the end of Moonves’ decades-long career at CBS. However, Chris Hardwick, who was recently accused by his ex-girlfriend of sexual and emotional abuse, was reinstated Talking Dead's host following his investigation by AMC.
While the specifics of the alleged victims’ accounts were thoroughly detailed in the New Yorker article, a more specific response by Moonves to the accusations could help to clear his reputation like it did with Hardwick. Whatever the outcome is for Moonves, it appears there is a disturbing culture of misogyny in the CBS corporate ladder.
Source: The New Yorker