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Jayme Deerwester


USA TODAY

Published 7:18 p.m. UTC Jul 27, 2018

CBS’ board of directors has made a pre-emptive statement ahead of the publication of a New Yorker story expected to accuse CEO, Leslie Moonves, of sexual misconduct.

In a statement issued Friday that did not mention Moonves by name, the board said, “All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously. The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the Company’s clear policies in that regard. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the Board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action.”

The Hollywood Reporter on Friday said The New Yorker is set to publish an expose that includes allegations of sexual misconduct against Moonves.

The CBS board of directors also acknowledged that the story comes during the network’s legal fight to fend off a merger with former parent company Viacom, led by CBS’ majority shareholder, Shari Redstone. 

“While that litigation process continues, the CBS management team has the full support of the independent board members,” the statement continued. “Along with that team, we will continue to focus on creating value for our shareowners.”

Redstone, who has battled with Moonves for control over CBS, hit back at reports she may have contributed to Friday’s New Yorker story.

“The malicious insinuation that Ms. Redstone is somehow behind the allegations of inappropriate personal behavior by Mr. Moonves or today’s reports is false and self-serving,” said a statement sent to USA TODAY by her rep, Sara Evans. “Ms. Redstone hopes that the investigation of these allegations is thorough, open and transparent.”

Wall Street was spooked in anticipation of the New Yorker story, and the potential for Moonves’ exit. CBS’ stock price (NYSE: CBS) began fluctuating, falling as far as 7 percent but was down 5.9%, to $54.15, by 2 p.m. EDT.

Moonves, 68, has been at CBS since 1995. In 2009, he was promoted to CEO of the TV network and then was later named CEO of CBS Corporation in 2016.

Under his watch, CBS enjoyed more than a decade as the most-watched network, with hits such as “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS.”  It narrowly retained its ratings crown in the 2017-18 season that ended in May.

He is also married to Julie Chen, the host of two shows on the network, “The Talk” and “Big Brother.” The couple, who wed in late 2004, have one son, Charlie, 8.

He was previously married to Nancy Wiesenfeld from 1978 to 2004, though the couple began living apart in 2003. They have three adult children.

Moonves began his Hollywood career as an actor with bit parts in TV shows before switching careers, quickly ascending in corporate management at 21st Century Fox Television, Lorimar and Warner Bros. Television. As president at Warner Bros., he developed hits “Friends” and “ER” for NBC before joining CBS Entertainment as programming chief.

Although Moonves’ behavior is the headline of The New Yorker story, the latest report by Pulitzer Prize winner Ronan Farrow is also expected to delve into the network’s culture and its role in enabling bad behavior like that of ousted “CBS This Morning” host Charlie Rose.

This story is developing.

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