CBS has launched an investigation following New Yorker magazine’s bombshell report late on Friday that the chairman and CEO of the American broadcaster Leslie Moonves (pictured with wife Julie Chen) sexually harassed six women at work between the 1980s and the late 2000s.
The report by Ronan Farrow, the Pulitzer winner who exposed tainted film producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, cited the women as saying their careers had been harmed after they rejected 68-year-old Moonves’ advances between the mid 1980s and late 2000s.
Responding to the report without naming Moonves, independent directors of CBS said they view all allegations of personal misconduct seriously and are committed to investigating them. Appropriate action will be taken after reviewing the findings.
Farrow’s report was based on interviews with some 30 past and current employees of CBS.
Of the six women, actress Illeana Douglas alleged that Moonves fired her from a television series in 1997 when she resisted him after he pushed her onto a couch in his office and started violently kissed her. He told her she would never work at the network again.
Screenwriter Janet Jones alleged that Moonves forcibly kissed her at a work meeting in 1985 and threatened to ruin her career if she revealed the incident to anyone.
Four other women said he inappropriately touched or kissed them.
In a statement to CBS, Moonves said he may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances decades ago.
Moonves said he regretted the mistakes but denied he misused his position to harm anyone’s career.
His wife and colleague Julie Chen fully backed her husband describing him as a kind, decent and moral human being on Twitter.
The New Yorker report said CBS not only tolerated the culture of harassment, gender bias and retaliation but also promoted those who indulged in sexual misconduct.
Moonves was promoted to president and CEO of CBS Television in 1998, and became chairman in 2003.
Despite the allegations against him, Moonves helped to found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, the report said.
He played a key role in turning CBS into a successful TV network with hits like Survivor and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
CBS veteran Charlie Rose was fired in November last year after the Washington Post reported allegations of sexual harassment against him by staffers.