Leslie Moonves responds to misconduct allegations: 'I may have made some women uncomfortable'
Six women accuse CBS CEO Leslie Moonves of sexual misconduct in a lengthy article in The New Yorker, which also goes on to suggest how the network maintains a testosterone-fueled culture where “everything feels old, the people, the furniture, the culture, the mores.”
One of the accusers is actress Illeana Douglas (Six Feet Under), who reportedly alleges she was fired from a 1997 pilot after refusing Moonves’ advances which included “violent kissing” and holding her down on his office couch. “The physicality of it was horrendous,” she alleges of Moonves, who was the CBS Entertainment President at the time. Douglas claims she was then fired from the sitcom and denied payment, though she was later offered compensation and the chance to appear in a CBS miniseries after she retained a lawyer.
Moonves released this statement to The New Yorker that was also obtained by EW: “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.”
CBS, which vowed earlier Friday to investigate the claims before the article had even been published, also released a statement: “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. 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.”
Other women allege either retaliatory behavior by Moonves or a lack of work at CBS when his advances were rejected, according to The New Yorker.
A former actor, Moonves went on to become one of the most powerful men in the industry after resuscitating CBS. His compensation reflects his value to the company: The New Yorker reports that he earned nearly $70,000,000 last year, making him one of the highest-paid executives in the world.