Brow Beat

Les Moonves Resigns at CBS in the Wake of New Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Les Moonves in a blue vest, looking unhappy.
Les Moonves at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Leslie Moonves has resigned from his position as Chairman and CEO of CBS, the Los Angeles Times reports. The move comes the same day the New Yorker published a Ronan Farrow story detailing more allegations of sexual misconduct from Moonves, including forced oral sex and physical assault. It also comes the same day Vanity Fair published a story about Moonves kissing a doctor who had come to his office to treat him, then allegedly masturbating in front of her. Moonves has denied the new allegations, although he said he had “consensual relations” with three of the new accusers in the New Yorker story (without qualifying which three) and admitted to trying to kiss his doctor, but denied masturbating in front of her, sending the following statement to Vanity Fair through a representative:

The appalling allegations about my conduct toward a female physician some 20 years ago are untrue. What is true, and what I deeply regret, is that I tried to kiss the doctor. Nothing more happened.

CBS say it will be donating $20 million to organizations associated with the #MeToo movement this week, deducting it from any severance owed Moonves. The disgraced CEO was contractually entitled to receive as much as $180 million in an exit package, and Farrow told CNN on Sunday that as recently as earlier in the week, the network was discussing a golden parachute “in the neighborhood of $100 million.” Now CBS is putting severance payments on hold until a third-party investigation into the allegations is complete, at which point they will negotiate a settlement based on the severity of the allegations. The investigation is being run by Mary Jo White of Debevoise & Plimpton and Nancy Kestenbaum of Covington & Burling, both white-shoe firms.

Joseph Ianniello, the company’s COO and an 18-year CBS veteran, will be promoted to acting CEO while the network searches for a permanent replacement. CBS is reportedly considering bringing in an entertainment executive to assist him, as Ianniello lacks Moonves’ strong network of relationships with talent. Moonves has been in charge of the television network since 1995, and the CEO of the CBS Corporation since 2006. Last year, his compensation package was worth $69.3 million.