Les Moonves expected to resign Sunday or Monday

Brenda Watkins
September 10, 2018

CBS chief Leslie Moonves has stepped down after six more women accused him of sexual misconduct and intimidation in a bombshell investigation published Sunday by The New Yorker.

His exit from the network came just hours after an additional six women came forward with serious allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against him in journalist Ronan Farrow's latest piece for The New Yorker.

It's not clear what Moonves' severance pay will be, but the company said he "will not receive any severance benefits at this time (other than certain fully accrued and vested compensation and benefits)".

The company announced the news late Sunday, noting that Joseph Ianniello, CBS's current COO, has been named president and acting CEO while the CBS Board of Directors conducts a search for a permanent successor. Moonves acknowledged relations with three of the women but said they were consensual, adding he had never used his position to hurt the careers of women. Locked in a battle for corporate control with Shari Redstone of National Amusements, Moonves received a standing ovation from an audience that sensed it could be his past year. "I haven't talked about this before, because when you think about it, the most powerful media executive in America has now resigned in the wake of this Me Too movement - and he's my boss, or he was my boss", she said at the beginning of the show, adding that Moonves "always treated me fairly and with respect". O'Donnell added: "This I know is true: Women can not achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is reckoning".

Moonves is a major Hollywood figure, and was both "the public face of the company" and "an integral part of daily life at the CBS broadcast network and major assets such as Showtime and the nascent CBS All Access streaming service", according to Joe Adalian's analysis at Vulture. Dozens of other women have complained that sexual misconduct was tolerated in parts of the company.

"CBS takes these allegations very seriously".

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In reaction to early reports that Moonves was negotiating an exit package that could be worth north of $100 million, several accusers expressed outrage that the longtime mogul could be so enriched from the scandals.

He had been battling National Amusements over board control, in addition to the harassment complaints.

CNN also reports that Farrow told the network numerous women involved in the allegations have been frustrated with CBS' board's handling of the situation. This money, the amount of it, is dependent on the outcome of this investigation and what CBS believes to be truthful and accurate and real allegations of sexual misconduct. Some women said Moonves damaged their careers by retaliating against them if they rebuffed his advances, Farrow reported. The CBS board initially resisted calls for Moonves to be suspended or forced out.

Since joining CBS in 1995, Moonves transformed the corporation into the most watched television network in the country and one of the media industry's best-performing businesses.

Shortly after his first New Yorker story was published, a source familiar with the situation told me that Moonves was the anonymous subject of a recent article published this past May by Dr. Anne Peters in the Annals of Internal Medicine, under the headline "A Physician's Place in the #MeToo Movement". What is true, and what I deeply regret, is that I tried to kiss the doctor.

Moonves previously denied allegations in the July report.

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