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CBS looks into misconduct claims amid report on CEO Moonves

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Posted at 7:43 AM, Jul 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-29 07:43:53-04

CBS said Friday it is investigating personal misconduct claims after the company’s chief executive, Les Moonves, was the subject of a New Yorker story detailing sexual misconduct allegations.

The media company said independent members of its board of directors are “investigating claims that violate the company’s clear policies” regarding personal misconduct.

CBS Corp.’s stock fell 6 percent — its worst one-day loss in nearly seven years — as the reports of the misconduct allegations began to circulate around noon Friday, triggering investor concerns Moonves might be forced to step down. The CBS chief has been a towering figure in television for decades, credited with turning around a network that had been mired for years at the bottom ratings.

The New York-based company did not mention Moonves by name but said it issued a statement in response to the New Yorker article, which was published on the magazine’s website late Friday. The article was written by Ronan Farrow, who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning story last year for the same magazine uncovering many of the allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The article says six women who had professional dealings with Moonves say he sexually harassed them between the 1980s and late 2000s. Four of the women described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, it says, while two said that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers.

Among the women quoted in the article were the actress Illeana Douglas, writer Janet Jones and producer Christine Peters. Farrow told The Associated Press that all the women quoted in the article had to overcome “a lot of fear of retaliation to tell very serious stories of sexual misconduct about Les Moonves.”

Moonves acknowledged in a statement that there were times decades ago when he may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. But he says, “Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely.”

He said that he never misused his position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.

The New Yorker article also said a culture of misconduct extended from Moonves to other parts of the corporation, including CBS News. It said men in that division who were accused of sexual misconduct were promoted, even as the company paid settlements to women with complaints.