New Yorker writer says women feared retaliation

Oscar Cross
July 30, 2018

USA broadcasting and media company CBS Corp (CBS.N) said it was investigating claims of personal misconduct by its chief executive Leslie Moonves made in a New Yorker magazine article that was published on Friday.

On Friday, shares of CBS declined 6.12 percent to $54.01 at the close in NY. When asked for comment by ABC News on the report, the company's independent board of directors said it would investigate the accusations.

The article also includes allegations that "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager made unwanted advances. "Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely", Moonves said in a statement obtained by AFP.

A former associate producer summed up the network in a similar fashion.

Douglas was limp and unresponsive, to the point where she couldn't breathe and felt like a "trapped animal".

In a statement to The New Yorker, Moonves said that the company had promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees during his tenure.

He said that he never misused his position to harm or hinder anyone's career. "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". Upon conclusion of the inquiry, CBS said, "the board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action".

Before joining CBS in 1995 as the company's entertainment president, Moonves ran Warner Bros. television, where he developed such blockbuster hits as "ER" and "Friends".

Moonves has been running CBS for more than a decade, and is credited with turning it into the most-watched broadcast network on television for 15 of the past 16 years. Their feud began when CBS fought against Redstone's proposed merger of the two companies.

Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, and two said Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers, The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow reported.

He is also one of the highest paid executives in the U.S. Forbes estimates the 68-year-old Moonves is worth $700 million.

In November, CBS fired veteran news host Charlie Rose over allegations he had groped women, walked naked in front of them and made lewd phone calls.

National Amusements jumped into the controversy with a statement denying what it called "the malicious insinuation that Ms. Redstone is somehow behind the allegations of inappropriate personal behavior by Mr. Moonves or today's reports".

Other details about the allegations against him are not clear.

CBS and Viacom were once part of the same company, known as Viacom, but were split in 2005 into separate entities, both controlled by Sumner Redstone.

Moonves has been a singular presence at CBS for decades. Moonves resisted that deal because he believed CBS's prospects were better without taking on Viacom's turnaround challenges.

While a distraction for the board, the sexual misconduct allegations are unlikely to be a factor in the DE court case, said Larry Hamermesh, a Widener University law professor who is an expert in Delaware's corporate statutes.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported that Farrow, after months of investigation, would publish the Moonves story in the New Yorker on Friday. "Along with that team, we will continue to focus on creating value for our shareowners".

"Before the story was published, a spokeswoman for National Amusements Inc said, "(Shari) Redstone hopes that the investigation of these allegations is thorough, open and transparent".

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