Six Women Have Accused CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves Of Sexual Misconduct

Ronan Farrow — the journalist whose reporting on the Harvey Weinstein scandal helped spark the #MeToo and Time's Up movements — published a bombshell article on Friday that detailed allegations of sexual harassment against CBS CEO Les Moonves and other men at the company. 

Over the course of an eight month investigation, Farrow interviewed 30 current and former CBS employees about Moonves' alleged misconduct over three decades. Six women described harassment, including forcible groping and kissing. Whenever Moonves' alleged advances were met with resistance, he's said to have physically intimidated the women or threatened retaliation against their careers. 

"What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was fired for not participating," actress and writer Illeana Douglas told Farrow. 

Some of the people who Moonves did promote were also accused of inappropriate behavior, according to the report

Moonves admitted to The New Yorker that he's "made some women uncomfortable," which he regrets. His full statement to the magazine reads: "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."

In the article, Farrow attributed a statement to CBS that there have been no official misconduct claims or settlements against Moonves during his 24 years at the network. 

Jeff Fager, the current executive producer of 60 Minutes and former chairman of CBS News, was also named in the report. He allegedly inappropriately touched women, made lewd comments, and both tolerated and protected others who acted similarly. 

Fager denied the accusations in a statement to The New Yorker.

"It is wrong that our culture can be falsely defined by a few people with an axe to grind who are using an important movement as a weapon to get even, and not by the hundreds of women and men that have thrived, both personally and professionally, at 60 Minutes," Fager said, adding, "A majority of our senior staff are women. All of them worked their way up the ranks and are now managers of our broadcast. Half of our producers and a majority of our associate producers are women. It is a challenging place to do well and promotions are earned on merit and are not based on gender."

CBS issued a statement of its own, although it doesn't name Moonves or Fager directly. "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," the statement reads. "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."

CBS and Moonves are currently in the middle of a legal battle with shareholder Shari Redstone, who's trying to merge the company with Viacom. In Farrow's report, he noted that his investigation began before any lawsuits were filed between Redstone and CBS. Redstone herself denied any involvement with the accusations. 

Moonves is married to Julie Chen, who serves as the host of CBS' Big Brother and The Talk. She took to Twitter on Friday night to defend her husband. "Leslie is a good man and a loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader," she said. "He has always been a kind, decent and moral human being. I fully support my husband."