CBS' Leslie Moonves resigns amid allegations

Deanna Kelley
September 10, 2018

Les Moonves makes around $70 million a year in his current position at CBS, where he's been in one executive capacity or another since 1995.

Moonves departs immediately. Joseph Ianniello, the company's chief operating officer and a longtime acolyte of Moonves, has been named interim CEO while the board conducts a search for a permanent replacement. "It is systematic, and it is pervasive in our culture", she said. O'Donnell added: "This I know is true: Women can not achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is reckoning".

Moonves is one of the media world's highest paid CEOs, so his severance package would normally be generous, even gargantuan. Leslie Moonves attends CBS' 2015 Summer TCA party at the Pacific Design Center on August 10, 2015 in West Hollywood, California.

"Today's resolution will benefit all shareholders, allowing us to focus on the business of running CBS - and transforming it for the future", Redstone said in a statement.

Allred told Reuters she is representing two clients in the matter who are willing to cooperate with an ongoing independent investigation, "and I do think it is important that the board receive a report".

The jailbreak happened earlier this year when Moonves and most members of the CBS board took steps to dilute Redstone's control.

However, CBS said the company and Mr Moonves would donate $US20 million ($NZ30.6 million) to groups supporting the #MeToo movement. Moonves actually pushed the CBS board to dilute its stock to enable them to oust the Redstones as controlling shareholders. Women told journalist Ronan Farrow that Moonves physically intimidated them and sometimes retaliated if they rejected his advances to damage their careers. "And I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women", Moonves said in a statement, according to the New Yorker.

At another time, she said an angry Moonves pushed her hard against a wall. In a statement made in July when news of the allegations first broke, Moonves acknowledged three of the encounters but alleges they were all consensual.

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"I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company", Moonves added, calling it "an incredible privilege" to have worked for CBS.

National Amusements will appoint six new independent directors to the CBS board, including former Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons.

Moonves denied the allegations but CBS hired two law firms to investigate.

CNN reported Sunday afternoon, shortly after Farrow's follow-up to his bombshell story that Moonves had sexually assaulted a number of women including actor Illeana Douglas who came forward and spoke in great and graphic detail about his alleged assault and retribution that followed her rebuke of sexual harassment and assault, that he Moonves was out.

Moonves was an advocate for the traditional broadcast network model when others anxious it was becoming obsolete, but he also launched streaming services for CBS entertainment and news. But if he is removed "for cause", relating to the harassment allegations, for example, such an eye-popping severance package would not be in play.

Most of the women who spoke with Farrow went on to claim that these alleged incidents, which spanned the 1980s and early 2000s, ultimately hurt their careers.

Moonves, 68, who turned CBS from an aging radio and TV broadcaster into a provider of shows to digital platforms, was expected to reap an estimated $100 million in severance.

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