Bad For Women, Good For CBS: Leslie Moonves Embroiled In Sex Harassment Scandal. (7/30/2018)
Leslie Moonves in Sexual Harassment Suit; Board Decides To Maintain Position For Now (Photo: NYT)
CBS CEO, who once acknowlegded about how giving Trump airtime was bad for the country, but not CBS, is now accused of perverted actions with employees.Tweet
CBS Corp. said its board of directors was in the process of selecting an outside law firm to handle an independent investigation into allegations Chief Executive Leslie Moonves sexually harassed women.
No other actions were taken at the Monday board meeting, which was long scheduled in advance of CBS's second-quarter earnings being released later this week.
The board also said it has again postponed its annual meeting, which was scheduled for Aug. 10. It originally was to be held in May but was delayed because of a continuing legal fight between CBS and its controlling shareholder National Amusements Inc. over control of the company.
The investigation was prompted by a New Yorker article published Friday, in which six women who had professional dealings with Mr. Moonves between the 1980s and late 2000s claimed he sexually harassed them.
Mr. Moonves expressed regret in the New Yorker article for any behavior that made women uncomfortable but denied that he retaliated by harming anyone's career after being rebuffed.
CBS shares were more than 5% lower in midafternoon trading in New York.
In the wake of the story's publication, several senior female CBS executives who have worked with Mr. Moonves publicly voiced their support for him, including ad sales chief Jo Ann Ross, CBS Films chief Terry Press, programming executive Angelica McDaniel and Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy.
The investigation comes as CBS is engaged in a legal battle with National Amusements, a holding company that has nearly 80% voting stakes in CBS and Viacom Inc. National Amusements President Shari Redstone has pushed to merge them despite resistance from Mr. Moonves and his management team.
In May, CBS directors moved to weaken National Amusements and Ms. Redstone's hold on the company by issuing a dividend that would reduce National Amusements' voting stake to about 20% from 80%. National Amusements changed the CBS bylaws to require approval of a supermajority of directors for such an action. The battle has moved to a Delaware court and is expected to go to trial in the fall.
CBS and Viacom were in merger talks earlier this year, going so far as to agree on a price, pending the resolution of management issues, including who would be Mr. Moonves's successor.
Mr. Moonves, who has been CEO since 2006, has been lauded for his savvy in the entertainment industry and on Wall Street. During his tenure, CBS has typically been the most-watched broadcaster in the industry, even as it has battled viewership erosion like most TV networks. He has slimmed down the company over the past few years to focus more on content production and distribution, shedding the CBS radio and billboard units.
Mr. Moonves began his show-business career as an actor before transitioning into production. He rose to the top of Warner Bros. Television; shows developed on his watch there included "Friends" and "ER."
CBS hired Mr. Moonves in 1995 to turn around its struggling prime-time lineup and he climbed the ranks. Mr. Moonves is known for being very involved in programming and casting decisions at the network and its pay-TV channel Showtime.
Mr. Moonves has been married to CBS on-air personality Julie Chen since 2004.