The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow has published an investigation into CBS president and CEO Les Moonves detailing decades of alleged sexual misconduct. The report also looks at the broader culture of CBS and the manner in which it handled those allegations.
THE BIGGEST BOMBSHELLS
Six women accuse Moonves of harassing them. The accusers include actress Illeana Douglas, producer Christine Peters and "a prominent actress who played a police officer on a long-running CBS program."
Four women describe a "practiced routine" of forced fondling and kissing in the workplace.
Douglas, who starred in Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear and Goodfellas, described an encounter in 1997: "What it feels like to have someone hold you down—you can’t breathe, you can’t move. The physicality of it was horrendous." Soon after, Moonves fired Douglas from the CBS sitcom she had been cast in and told her that she would "never work at this network again."
When she told Scorsese, he told Douglas to think twice before taking action, urging her to be cautious about taking legal action against such a powerful person" but then referring her to his lawyer.
Ultimately, CBS reportedly offered her a settlement of $125K and $250K to appear in a new miniseries. Since she leveled the accusation, she has not worked for CBS again and says she believes it "derailed any future career I would have had at CBS."
OTHER CAREERS DERAILED
Writer Janet Jones claims after informing producers that Moonves forcibly kissed her in 1985, he called her and said, "’I’m warning you. I will ruin your career. You will never get a writing job. No one will hire you. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?’"
Other writers concurred, saying their careers had also been stalled after rejecting Moonves’ advances.
Thirty current and former employees allege they were harassed at the network. Some describe CBS News as having a "frat house" vibe.
In addition to revelations about Moonves, Farrow writes that 60 Minutes exec producer Jeff Fager (previously chairman of CBS News) touched women inappropriately at company parties and protected other men below him from misconduct allegations.
"A lot of my memories of 60 Minutes are of other women coming into my office, closing the door, and just breaking down because of working as a woman at CBS," an unnamed woman said. "Toward the end of my time there, I thought, God, I love the stories, I love the work, but this has to be easier somewhere else."
In a statement, Moonves said: "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."
The network, whose stock plummeted more than 5% after the news broke, said it will investigated the 68-year-old.
Here is the statement it released: "CBS is very mindful of all workplace issues and takes each report of misconduct very seriously. We do not believe, however, that the picture of our company created in The New Yorker represents a larger organization that does its best to treat its tens of thousands of employees with dignity and respect. We are seeing vigorous discourse in our country about equality, inclusion and safety in the workplace, and CBS is committed to being part of the solution to those important issues."
CBS’ board of directors is expected to take up the subject at a meeting today (Monday), sources tell Deadline. TBD if CBS’ controlling shareholder Shari Redstone will attend.