CBS CEO Leslie Moonves Contends With His Own #MeToo Moment


In the era of the #MeToo movement that saw men with big names like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein taken down based upon the words of their accusers alone, and before they were ever found guilty of their crimes it seems as though there is at least one man who is #MeToo proof. That man is the chairman of CBS Leslie Moonves. For anyone who would look at this guy from the surface he is highly impressive. For over twenty years now he has been one of the most powerful media executives that America has ever known. As the big dog over at CBS there is nothing that gets pass Moonves as he oversees everything from “60 minutes” to “The Big Bang Theory,” and every other CBS show in between that you could imagine. News media giants like The Wall Street Journal hold Leslie Moonves in high regard with a lot of respect as they call this man a “TV programming wizard,” while other media sources view him as some kind of a wall street messiah. Leslie Moonves truly seems to have the touch of King Midas. Last year alone he made more money than I and I’m pretty sure everyone I know will ever make at almost 70 million dollars.

That is the business side of Leslie Moonves. Outside the office Moonves has recently become a more prominent voice in the #MeToo movement. He was one of the founders of  the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, which is chaired by Anita Hill. Last November when he spoke the commission and how it would create a safer, healthier workplace environment for men and women Leslie Moonves said, “it’s a watershed moment. I think it’s important that a company’s culture will not allow for this. And that’s the thing that’s far-reaching. There’s a lot we’re learning. There’s a lot we didn’t know.”

Often times who we are really is not just one person. Instead we are each two different people. There is who we were, and who we are today. Six women who have had professional dealings with Leslie Moonves have recently exposed a Leslie Moonves that a lot of us didn’t even know existed. While discussing events that took place between the late 1980s and the late 1990s four of the six women described unwanted sexual advances that took place during meetings through forcible touching and kissing. Two of them even claimed that he physically intimidated them and threatened to destroy their careers. All six of them agree that he became cold or hostile toward them after they rejected his advances, and they believe that their careers suffered because of it. One Hollywood actress and writer you may recognize from her role as Kevin Bacon’s sister in law in the movie Stir of Echoes, Illeana Douglas said, “what happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was fired for not participating.”

If what thirty current and former employees of CBS is true then one would have to believe that CBS is a breeding and hunting ground for men like Weinstein and Cosby, because according to them the type of behavior that Leslie Moonves has been accused of doesn’t just end with Moonves. It extends downwards to other important parts of the corporation. During the time that Moonves has been at the helm of CBS men who have been accused of similar behavior often times found themselves promoted and given pay raises instead of disciplined. These promotions occurred even when the accusers of these men were paid settlements to keep the situation quiet which implies that CBS knew that the men were guilty.

One should not jump to the conclusion that Leslie Moonves himself promoted such an atmosphere. He may not have been made aware of these accusations against the men who were being promoted, however one thing that is a known fact is that Moonves has a well earned reputation for being personally involved with management decisions that take place across the network. Some of the accusations that have been thrown in the direction of men like Charlie Rose are already public knowledge, but other accusations are only seeing the light of day for the first time.

In a statement regarding the current situation that faces himself and CBS Leslie Moonves said, “throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected—and abided by the principle—that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”

My research has not been able to turn up any sexual misconduct claims that have been made against Leslie Moonves or settlements paid on his behalf until recently. This lack of being able to find any claims or settlements is further supported by the CBS network who contends that  there have been no misconduct claims and no settlements against Moonves during his twenty-four years at the network. In a statement released by CBS they said, “CBS is very mindful of all workplace issues and takes each report of misconduct very seriously. We do not believe, however, that the picture of our company created in The New Yorker represents a larger organization that does its best to treat its tens of thousands of employees with dignity and respect. 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.”

Despite not being able to find anything against Leslie Moonves that has been officially filed before now, I can not help to be concerned by CBS’s decision to allow him to stay actively at the helm while an investigation is taking place. Allowing him to remain active at the position that he currently holds while the board of directors launch an investigation into recent allegations that Leslie Moonves has sexually assaulted women over the decades that he has been in a position of power would have to make any investigation questionable at best. While I will not speculate that Leslie Moonves is the kind of man who would try to interfere in his own investigation since I do not personally know the man what I will say is that a man like Moonves has a lot of motive for interfering in such an investigation.

At this present time I am not in a position to share whether or not I believe that this man is guilty, but I have to agree with Stephen Colbert when he said that accountability means nothing if everybody isn’t held accountable. With that said I will close out with a quote from a favorite tv series of mine, the outer limits. If who we are is the result of every decision that we have made, with each decision we make we can change who we will be.