Sharon Osbourne questions 'timing' of Moonves bombshell

Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, Accused of Sexual Misconduct: Report

CBS Board to Investigate Allegations of Misconduct by CEO Leslie Moonves

A New Yorker report on allegations of sexual assault, harassment, and retaliation against CBS CEO Leslie "Les" Moonves was so anticipated that it sent the media company's stock down nearly 10% hours before the story's publication on Friday afternoon.

The media company said independent members of its board of directors were "investigating claims that violate the company's clear policies" regarding personal misconduct.

CBS' stock price dropped by 6% on Friday as reports of the New Yorker article trickled out.

In 2017, CBS ranked as the most-watched network in terms of total viewers, as it had done for nine consecutive years.

CBS said it takes reports of misconduct seriously but does not believe "the picture of our company created in The New Yorker represents a larger organisation that does its best to treat its tens of thousands of employees with dignity and respect".

The report by Ronan Farrow, who also wrote one of the two stories that brought down predatory producer Harvey Weinstein, alleges that over a period of more than two decades Moonves groped, forcibly kissed and/or made sexually aggressive comments to women during what they thought were business meetings and then retaliated against them when they didn't give in to his advances.

These women included actress and writer Illeana Douglas, who told Farrow that Les Moonves tried to convince her to work with CBS by selling her on the possibility of getting a nice house with a swimming pool, among other promises.

In a statement, CBS said that Moonves acknowledges trying to kiss Douglas, but that "he denies any characterization of 'sexual assault, ' intimidation, or retaliatory action", including berating her on set and personally firing her from "Queens".

"In a statement to the New Yorker, Moonves said acknowledged making advances in some cases "decades ago", but said he understood "'no" means "no'" and never retaliated.

"Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely", he said.

Mr Moonves is the latest media giant to become embroiled in sexual misconduct allegations since the downfall of Weinstein in October triggered the #metoo social media movement.

In this file photo taken on January 19, 2010 CBS President Leslie Moonves arrives for the premiere of CBS Films' "Extraordinary Measures" at Graumans Chinese Theatre in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles January 19, 2010. He revived the company, which operates the CBS network, Showtime and other entities, with hit shows like "NCIS" and "The Big Bang Theory".

Katie Couric is one of several women who have spoken out about the toxic work environment at CBS amid allegations that the corporation's CEO Les Moonves not only fostered such behavior, but engaged in inappropriate behavior.

CBS resisted a deal, and later took Shari Redstone to court to dilute her controlling stake in the company.

Reporting on the bombshell report, CBS News detailed the allegations made against Moonves and Fager, including recounting how actor and producer Ileana Douglas recalled how, in 1997, Moonves held her down and "violently kissed her" after asking if she was single. The legal case is being played out in DE court. That made him one of the highest-paid CEOs in the country past year, according to an Equilar review of S&P 500 companies.

During the 2016 presidential election, he was criticised for saying Donald Trump's candidacy "may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS". Television, where he oversaw the development of hit TV shows "Friends" and "ER".

Chen and Moonves began their romance in 2003 when he was still married to wife Nancy Wiesenfeld Moonves.

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