Hours after another bombshell report containing #MeToo allegations from six more women, CBS Corporation announced Sunday that chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves is out effective immediately — and, depending on how the investigation goes, he might not receive his financial exit package of as much as $180 million.
On Sunday, The New Yorker published another damaging #MeToo investigative piece by Ronan Farrow — the reporter who helped break the Harvey Weinstein story — detailing the allegations of six more women who are accusing Moonves of sexual misconduct, a follow-up to Farrow’s previous report presenting the accusations of six other women against the CEO. Three hours later, CBS announced that Moonves was done.
CBS News underscored in its coverage of the CEO’s exit that he might not be seeing that $180 million he was promised if he was fired.
“A financial exit package for Moonves will be withheld pending the results of an ongoing investigation into the allegations against him. Moonves was eligible for as much as $180 million if fired without cause, according to an employment contract he signed in May 2017,” CBS reports. “Recent reports indicated a potential payout in the range of $100 million.”
CBS also announced that Moonves has agreed to donate $20 million to #MeToo organizations promoting equality in the workplace. “The donation will be made immediately, the statement said, and deducted from any severance he ultimately receives,” CBS reports.
Moonves adamantly denies the “appalling” allegations, though he has vaguely acknowledged three of the encounters with women which he insisted were consensual.
“The appalling accusations in this article are untrue,” Moonves said in a statement to The New Yorker. “What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS. And I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women. In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career. Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me.”
In his first report on the allegations against Moonves, Farrow stressed that the now former CEO had become a “prominent voice” of the #MeToo movement, but his private life “belie his public statements“:
In recent months, Moonves has become a prominent voice in Hollywood’s #MeToo movement. In December, he helped found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, which is chaired by Anita Hill. “It’s a watershed moment,” Moonves said at a conference in November. “I think it’s important that a company’s culture will not allow for this. And that’s the thing that’s far-reaching. There’s a lot we’re learning. There’s a lot we didn’t know.”
But Moonves’s private actions belie his public statements. Six women who had professional dealings with him told me that, between the nineteen-eighties and the late aughts, Moonves sexually harassed them. Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine. Two told me that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers. All said that he became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result. “What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was fired for not participating,” the actress and writer Illeana Douglas told me. All the women said they still feared that speaking out would lead to retaliation from Moonves, who is known in the industry for his ability to make or break careers. “He has gotten away with it for decades,” the writer Janet Jones, who alleges that she had to shove Moonves off her after he forcibly kissed her at a work meeting, told me. “And it’s just not O.K.”