CBS fires CEO amid sexual assault claims

Moonves denies allegations of sexual misconduct. (Flickr)

By Ariel Steinsaltz
Staff Writer

The CEO of CBS, Leslie Moonves, was let go from the network on Sept. 10 after he was accused of multiple instances of sexual assault by six female CBS employees, according to ABC News.

In a statement, Moonves denied the allegations, saying that he had consensual relations with three of the women who accused him and that the other stories were fabricated, according to ABC News.

In light of the allegations, CBS and Moonves will donate $20 million to organizations supporting the Me Too movement and workplace equality, according to ABC News.

Moonves’ release from CBS comes as part of the larger Me Too movement, which has contributed to several men in prominent fields, such as entertainment and politics, stepping down due to allegations of sexual harassment.

The term “Me Too” in reference to sexual violence was coined in 2006 by Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist. The current movement was ignited after a New York Times article published in October of 2017 accused Harvey Weinstein of sexually abusing women over the span of multiple decades.

After this, the message “Me Too” began surfacing again as several more men were accused, including actor Kevin Spacey and former Minnesota senator Al Franken, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Joseph Iannello, CBS’s chief operating officer, will serve as acting chief executive officer until a replacement for Moonves is found, according to ABC News.

Despite the circumstances of his departure from CBS, Moonves could still receive up to $120 million in severance pay, depending on the results of an internal investigation conducted by CBS. However, the Time’s Up movement, a movement against sexual harassment and in support of workplace equality, urged CBS to instead donate that money to organizations that support workplace safety and combat sexual harassment, according to Rolling Stone.

Time’s Up advocates wrote a letter to CBS, in which they also implored the company to make changes to its corporate structure and workplace culture. The letter called for investigations into any sexual harassment allegations, oversight of the workplace and a safe working environment, according to the Rolling Stone.

The movement also encouraged CBS to make its workplace more diverse, and to make sure that there were no pay gaps due to gender or race. The movement accused the company of not hiring enough underrepresented groups to their board to reflect the network’s viewership, and assert that a lack of diversity and inclusion allows for more sexual harassment, according to Rolling Stone.