Les Moonves Out At CBS After More Assault Claims [VIDEO]

Les Moonves Out At CBS After More Assault Claims [VIDEO]

Les Moonves Out At CBS After More Assault Claims [VIDEO]

It’s all over except for the negotiation over the money. Ronan Farrow, who has been the best investigative journalist of the #MeToo movement, broke yet another article this morning on CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves. There are more allegations following the previous ones, and now Moonves is being shown the door.

The details are, quite frankly, gross beyond measure.

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. Similar frustrations about perceived inaction have prompted another woman to raise a claim of misconduct against Jeff Fager, the executive producer of “60 Minutes,” who previously reported to Moonves as the chairman of CBS News.

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.

And that’s the crux of the problem with so many of these cases. The time period for criminal charges has long since passed (which amazes me – why should there be a statute of limitations on sexual assault, if the bar of proof can be met? There’s no such limit on filing murder charges – why should sexual assault be excused from criminal charges just because too much time has passed?), which leaves only civil court and the court of public opinion as the only place for any measure of justice.

Les Moonves offered his own statement, as reported by Farrow:

In a statement, Moonves 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 consensual.

But it looks like CBS has finally had enough.


This was a slow-motion battle that finally had the scales tipped by Farrow’s reporting.

Longtime CBS chief executive Les Moonves, facing new claims of sexual misconduct, will step down soon as part of a wide-ranging corporate settlement of a separate fight for control of CBS.
The CBS board of directors is likely to announce the deal by Monday morning, according to two executives with direct knowledge of the matter.

Lawyers were said to be putting the finishing touches on the settlement on Sunday. Internally, it is being called a “global settlement,” meant to resolve months of litigation between Moonves and Shari Redstone, the controlling shareholder of CBS.

Moonves and Redstone were locked in a tug of war even before July 27, when Ronan Farrow first reported on alleged harassment by Moonves.

Farrow published a followup on Sunday. He wrote that “six additional women have accused the television executive of sexual misconduct, as the board of the CBS Corporation weighs the terms of his departure.”

The CBS board had already hired two law firms to do an investigation.

Now that the exit deal has been reached, the veteran broadcasting executive will step down before those investigations are finished, one of the sources said.

It is an extraordinary confluence of events — a boardroom battle royale and a #MeToo case at the C-suite level.

The impending shakeup may position CBS for a sale. And the financial stakes are huge. Moonves stands to earn upward of $100 million on his way out, but CBS is expected to try to “claw back” at least some of that compensation if the investigation finds evidence of misconduct.

Representatives for CBS and Redstone declined to comment on Sunday on talks about Moonves’ future at the company.

In Farrow’s first story, six women, some of whom were named, alleged harassment and other misconduct by Moonves. Some of the claims dated back several decades.

Moonves acknowledged making mistakes in his past but said he never abused his power. Of all the “Me Too” cases in the past year, this one stood out for several reasons, including the fact that Moonves is a powerful CEO of a major publicly-traded corporation.

Members of the CBS board of directors — the same directors who had been backing Moonves in the dispute with Redstone for months — did not suspend Moonves or force him to step down.

Instead, the board retained a pair of law firms to investigate the allegations.

Moonves kept a relatively low profile in August, but remained in charge of the broadcasting behemoth.


After the news from CBS started to come out, Farrow sent out an update.


While Les Moonves is not necessarily a household name, this entire story is indicative of how those in positions of power have gotten away with using and abusing those who work for them for so long without getting caught. It’s ugly and sick, and it deserves to be exposed. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and it looks like the CBS boardroom is about to get a whole lot cleaner.

Featured image: Les Moonves (Getty Images via Fox News)

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2 Comments
  • David says:

    Ms. Fisher, you asked and I was curious, too, so I looked it up…
    Statutes of limitation were put in place in part to discourage convictions based on “unreliable witness testimony,” including memories of events that occurred years in the past. (https://www.rainn.org/articles/statutes-limitations-sex-crimes)

    This one has me a bit perplexed – not judging mind you, just perplexed:
    …physically restraining her and forcing her to perform [ah-ha] on him.
    1) How did the “physically restraining” come about?
    2) Why did you keep working with him after the fact? A number of the women also said that Moonves retaliated after they rebuffed him, damaging their careers. Got it, but you could have kept (many?) other women from having to endure the same fate if you had stepped forward.
    3) Why didn’t you follow McGruff the Crime Dog’s advice and “take a bite out of …crime?”
    4) Why are you coming out with this now, after 30 years?

  • David says:

    “Why are you coming out with this now, after 30 years?”

    Why are they all? And why so many now?

    It’s organized. Q discusses this as well.

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