Insiders React To Allegations Against CBS CEO Les Moonves

Amber Athey & Joe Simonson | Contributor
  • An upcoming New Yorker expose by Ronan Farrow is expected to reveal allegations that CBS CEO Leslie Moonves made unwanted kissing and touching advances for decades.
  • CBS insiders told The Daily Caller News Foundation that staff was already aware of such incidents, but that the company culture encouraged employees to overlook them.
  • Media insiders outside of CBS also heard of Farrow’s investigation into Moonves.

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves is expected to be accused of sexual misconduct in an upcoming expose by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker.

Farrow’s story is expected to drop on Friday and will detail allegations of unwanted kissing and touching — some dating back a couple of decades, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The piece will also reportedly include an indictment of the broader culture at CBS.

The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned from a CBS employee that staffers were internally aware of incidents of sexual misconduct, but that the culture at the company encouraged them to overlook such incidents.

Even junior staffers at CBS had heard rumors about Moonves’ behavior for months, according to network insiders who spoke with TheDCNF. (EXCLUSIVE: Tom Brokaw’s Accuser Fights Back)

The rumors also extended beyond CBS, reaching the ears of media insiders unaffiliated with the network.

Media insiders say Farrow’s investigation into Moonves was essentially an open secret, making it unlikely that those close to Moonves were unaware of the allegations.

“I’ve heard for months this article was coming, but that [Moonves] was not proving an easy mark,” one network insider told TheDCNF.

“It’s harder to publish something like that on someone who’s very powerful, as opposed to someone on the downslope like [Harvey] Weinstein was,” the insider explained. “[CBS] would move aggressively to block an article like this from ever coming out.”

According to a Daily Beast report on July 19, CBS had hired the aggressive law firm Clare Locke, which “effectively neutered” The Washington Post’s story about sexual misconduct allegations against former anchor Charlie Rose.

“If you read the tea leaves, [“60 Minutes” executive producer] Jeff Fager hiring a law firm that kills #MeToo stories … you knew something big was coming,” one media insider told TheDCNF. “[CBS] saying they are shocked is not exactly credible.”

“It’s pretty obvious going back to Charlie [Rose] that [CBS] had a problem and that problem exists at other networks too,” the insider added. (RELATED: SOURCES: Chris Matthews Runs Aa Abusive Work Environment)

CBS released a statement indicating that they are aware of the allegations and will be investigating them.

“All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously,” CBS said in a statement. “The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the Company’s clear policies in that regard. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the Board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action.”

CBS also noted that the investigation comes at the same time the company is embroiled in a legal battle with Shari Redstone, the controlling shareholder in CBS and Viacom.

“The timing of this report comes in the midst of the Company’s very public legal dispute. While that litigation process continues, the CBS management team has the full support of the independent board members,” CBS continued. “Along with that team, we will continue to focus on creating value for our share owners.”

Moonves started at CBS in 1995 and was named president and CEO of CBS Corp. in 2006. The high-powered and successful executive has been married to CBS’ host Julie Chen for 14 years.

“I mean, he left his wife for Julie Chen, obviously he was busy in the office,” a network insider said.

Moonves married Chen just two weeks after his divorce from Nancy Wiesenfeld was finalized. Moonves and Wiesenfeld had been married since 1978.

CBS Corp.’s shares have already fallen by at least 5 percent after news broke that Moonves will be accused of misconduct.

The New Yorker said it does not comment on stories that have not been published.

The upcoming expose is the latest in a series of Farrow stories about sexual misconduct. Farrow won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assault and harassment of dozens of actresses.

Insiders told TheDCNF that the allegations against Moonves are just the tip of the media misconduct iceberg.

“He’s no worse than the other pigs at his level,” one source said, while another agreed, “There’s obviously more to come.”

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