Fu­ture of Moonves Is Still Up in the Air H

Variety - - Contents - Clau­dia Eller Co-ed­i­tor-in-chief

ere we go again.

One of the me­dia world’s most pow­er­ful fig­ures is fac­ing se­ri­ous ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual as­sault.

But, this time, it’s the CEO of a ma­jor en­ter­tain­ment com­pany who’s in the crosshairs — a first in the busi­ness we cover. Thou­sands upon thou­sands of share­hold­ers de­pend on the stew­ard­ship of CBS Corp. hon­cho Les­lie Moonves, who is in dan­ger of los­ing his job and for­ever sul­ly­ing his rep­u­ta­tion amid al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct.

If the ac­cu­sa­tions by the six women who came for­ward in Ro­nan Far­row’s New Yorker story are found to be true, it could spell the end of an era for one of the most suc­cess­ful busi­ness lead­ers of our time, and have a pro­found im­pact on the $19.4 bil­lion com­pany he runs.

Many in­dus­try watch­ers were brac­ing for the CBS board to take swift ac­tion against Moonves July 30 with a pos­si­ble sus­pen­sion of the CEO, but that didn’t hap­pen. Af­ter an hours-long board meet­ing the di­rec­tors sim­ply re­it­er­ated the com­pany’s plan to hire out­side coun­sel to in­de­pen­dently in­ves­ti­gate the sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions against him by the women named in the New Yorker ex­posé. It’s still very un­clear at this point what Moonves’ ul­ti­mate fate at CBS will be.

Few of us in the en­ter­tain­ment press were shocked by the ac­cu­sa­tions, which had been ru­mored for many, many months. It’s also no sur­prise that it was Far­row — an in­trepid in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter — who ul­ti­mately landed the story. Far­row helped bring down in­die mav­er­ick Har­vey We­in­stein last Oc­to­ber.

In an in­ter­view with re­porter Ramin Se­toodeh, Far­row ex­plains what made the al­leged ha­rass­ment and as­sault in­ci­dents so alarm­ing for many of the women he in­ter­viewed: “There was a di­chotomy there. He had been a pub­lic de­fender of the #Metoo move­ment.”

When news of Moonves’ al­le­ga­tions sur­faced last week, some of his sup­port­ers pri­vately ar­gued that they weren’t as egre­gious as the crim­i­nal charges brought against We­in­stein. True. But, the one fun­da­men­tal fac­tor shared by vir­tu­ally all of the me­dia world’s per­pe­tra­tors is that there was a pat­tern of dis­turb­ing un­eth­i­cal be­hav­ior in the work­place and that these men abused their po­si­tions of power.

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