Les Moonves & More CBS Talent React to the CEO's Ousting

Jessica Napoli
Getty/CBS

Leslie Moonves is out as CEO and Chairman of CBS network following an additional explosive report from The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow.

Six additional women have accused Moonves of sexual harassment or assault between the 1980s and the early 2000s, according to the article. Farrow previously released a report last month in which a half-dozen women claimed they were victims of workplace sexual harassment.

Some of the accusations made by these women include Moonves forcing women to perform oral sex, exposing himself without consent and using "physical violence and intimidation against them." One woman, Jessica Pallingston, alleged that Moonves also "retaliated against her professionally."

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Another woman, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, said she filed a criminal complaint with the LAPD, which accused 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."

Moonves acknowledged some of the encounters in a previous statement but called them 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."

In the wake of Moonves' exit, CBS is donating $20 million to various organizations that support the #MeToo movement but there are also reports he's negotiating an exit package worth $100 million or more.

He also released another statement confirming his resignation: "Effective immediately I will no longer be Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS. I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company. I wish nothing but the best for the organization, the newly comprised board of directors and all of its employees.

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"For the past 24 years it has been an incredible privilege to lead CBS's renaissance and transformation into a leading global media company. The best part of this journey has been working alongside the dedicated and talented people in this company. Together, we built CBS into a destination where the best in the business come to work and succeed."

On Monday, CBS This Morning co-anchors addressed Moonves' exit and alleged behavior in their morning broadcast. Norah O’Donnell said, “This is really hard. This is hard for everybody at CBS News. I think the most powerful media executive in America has now resigned in the wake of this Me Too movement, and he’s my boss. That makes it really hard to comment on it. Les has always treated me fairly and with respect. Still, for me, it’s been another sleepless night thinking about this — the pain that women feel, the courage that it takes for women to come forward and talk about this.”

"There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It is systematic, and it is pervasive in our culture,” she added. “And this I know is true to the core of my being: Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility.”

In the interim, Joe Ianniello is acting as CEO. He wrote a memo to all CBS employees on Monday morning stating, "Never has it been more important for us to make it abundantly clear that CBS has a steadfast commitment to diversity, inclusion and a safe and positive working environment. This is an integral part of our growth plan as together we unlock the immense talents across our entire employee base.

"Today also marks a major transition for all of us as Leslie Moonves departs from CBS. Les’ departure occurs at a time when we are operating from a position of great strategic strength,” Ianniello added. “As you all know, there is amazing work going on across the Company, and I feel confident we have the best people in the business to continue building on our outstanding success.”

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