Stephen Colbert addresses Leslie Moonves allegations: 'Accountability' should be 'for everybody'
"Everybody believes in accountability, until it’s their guy," he said.
He began by sprinkling jokes into his opening monologue before tackling the subject more seriously behind his talk-show desk. Having been in South Carolina with no internet, Colbert “heard there was an article about CBS Chairman and man-I-hope-isn’t-watching-tonight’s-monologue Leslie Moonves.”
The article was in a “quality publication,” The New Yorker, in which six women accused Moonves of “forcible” acts like touching and “violent kissing.” In a statement, Moonves admitted he “may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” but said, “I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.”
When Colbert found out Ronan Farrow, who reported on the Harvey Weinstein allegations, wrote the Moonves article, the Late Show host spit out his water and chose instead to take a sip of whiskey. “That’s not good,” he said. “Ronan isn’t exactly known for his puff pieces about glamping.”
On a more serious note, Colbert tried to unpack the situation speaking directly to camera behind his desk, commemorating the “one year” anniversary “of general awareness of the #MeToo movement.”
“This weekend, some people asked me, probably because I work here, ‘What is going to happen?'” he said. “I don’t know. I don’t know who does know. In a situation like this, I’d normally call Les. But over the past year there has been a lot of discussion about whether the disappearing of the accused from public life is the right thing to do. And I get that there should be levels of response, but I understand why that disappearing happens.”
Colbert brought back one of his favorite John F. Kennedy quotes for this discussion: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
“For so long, for women in the workplace, there was no change, no justice for the abused,” Colbert continued. “So we shouldn’t be surprised that when the change comes it comes radically. This war is just a natural backlash to all that silence. So I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do believe in accountability — and not just for politicians you disagree with.”
With specific regards to Moonves, Colbert concluded, “Everybody believes in accountability until it’s their guy. And, make no mistake, Les Moonves is my guy. He hired me to sit in this chair. He stood behind this show while we were struggling to find our voice. He gave us the time and the resources to succeed, and he has stood by us when people were mad at me, and I like working for him. But accountability is meaningless unless it’s for everybody, whether it’s the leader of a network or the leader of the free world.”
The Late Show