Leslie Moonves will not be getting his $120 million severance, as CBS concluded after a months-long investigation that there is, indeed, merit to numerous claims that its former CEO sexually harassed several women over the course of decades.
Word came of the decision via a statement from CBS today, and few were surprised.
Only weeks earlier, several Wall Street analysts said they’d be shocked if CBS paid Moonves the money it had set aside for him after he stepped down September 9.
“With regard to Mr. Moonves, we have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause, including his willful and material misfeasance, violation of Company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the Company’s investigation. Mr. Moonves will not receive any severance payment from the Company,” the board said on Monday.
The company’s full statement is below:
As a result of their work, the investigators also concluded that harassment and retaliation are not pervasive at CBS. However, the investigators learned of past incidents of improper and unprofessional conduct, and concluded that the Company’s historical policies, practices and structures have not reflected a high institutional priority on preventing harassment and retaliation. The investigation determined that the resources devoted to the Company’s Human Resources function, to training and development, and to diversity and inclusion initiatives have been inadequate, given the size and complexity of CBS’ businesses. Employees also cited past incidents in which HR and the Company did not hold high performers accountable for their conduct and protect employees from retaliation.
The Board, which includes six new members, and the Company’s new management have already begun to take robust steps to improve the working environment for all employees. Among other things, the Company appointed a new Chief People Officer, is actively engaged in ways to enhance and reimagine the Human Resources function, and has retained outside expert advisors to develop other initiatives for promoting a workplace culture of dignity, transparency, respect and inclusion. These efforts will continue to be a high priority for the Board and the Company’s management, and we will continue to work together to communicate with our workforce in that regard.
We would like to thank everyone who cooperated with the investigation and applaud CBS’ employees for remaining focused on their jobs during this very difficult time. We look forward to the people of CBS returning their full attention to the outstanding work that they do every single day.
CBS hired an investigative team that interviewed as many as 300 people, according to insiders, in order to get to the bottom of the allegations against Moonves after Ronan Farrow listed a half-dozen accusers in The New Yorker on July 27.
More came forward afterwards, and the final nail in the coffin may have come on November 28 when The New York Times published an exhaustive account involving a little-known actress by the name of Bobbie Phillips and her agent, Marv Dauer.
The article alleged that Moonves, in the 1990s when he was president of Warner Bros. TV, met with Phillips at the studio lot and forced his penis into her mouth while promising her parts in hit shows if she’d be his “girlfriend,” though he was married with three children at the time.
Decades later, when the #MeToo movement was afoot and Moonves was CEO of CBS, he reached out to Dauer to relay a message to his client — that being that he could get her work in exchange for her silence, according to the Times.
“If Bobbie talks, I’m finished,” Moonves allegedly told Dauer.
After that devastating account, CBS was under the gun to wrap up its investigation of Moonves prior to the January 31 deadline it had previously imposed on itself.
Since he stepped down as CEO, Moonves has been an unpaid adviser to CBS and the company was supplying him an office and security detail.
That arrangement was set to last until September 2020.
While CBS did not address his status as an unpaid adviser today, it may be terminating that deal, as well.
Julie Chen Moonves is expected to return as host of Celebrity Big Brother next month.
Chen Moonves, 48, resigned as co-host of The Talk back in September.
She remains employed at CBS, and will host the upcoming show, although there is also growing speculation that Celebrity Big Brother may be her last show at the network.
CBS insiders believe there is no way Chen Mooves will stay at the network when they finally terminate her husband’s advisory role.
ABC may be interested in pursuing Chen, now that her husband’s affiliation with CBS is at an end.
Many believe she would be the perfect replacement for Barbara Walters, who spent years at ABC as the face of entertainment and interviews.
“I would trade myself for Barbara Walters, I bow to her” Chen once told Andy Cohen. “I bow to her because she’s the best.”
The second season of Celebrity Big Brother will premiere on Monday, January 21 with a two-hour season premiere.
The show will air multiple nights a week until the show’s two-hour season finale on Wednesday, February 13th.
New episodes of “Celebrity Big Brother” will air every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
While Chen Moonves is contracted to host the 21st season of Big Brother next summer, it has not officially been renewed by the network.