The entertainment world was rocked by controversy yet again last week when a story broke alleging that CBS CEO Les Moonves had committed acts of sexual misconduct against employees in a series of reports going back decades. Members of the CBS family have been expected to weigh in on the scandal, and Stephen Colbert at The Late Show is no exception. The comedian addressed the allegations against Moonves in the July 30 episode of The Late Show, first with some relatively light comments in his opening monologue and then later in a serious statement to the audience and viewers at home. Here's what Colbert had to say:
I don't know what's going to happen, but I do believe in accountability. And not just for politicians you disagree with. Everybody believes in accountability until it's their guy. And make no mistake, Les Moonves is my guy. He hired me to sit in this chair. He stood behind this show while we were struggling to find our voice. He gave us the time and the resources to succeed. And he has stood by us when people were mad at me. And I like working for him. But accountability is meaningless unless it's for everybody. Whether it's the leader of a network, or the leader of the free world.
Stephen Colbert struck a balance between acknowledging that he has Les Moonves to thank for a lot of the biggest breaks of his career and that the allegations against Moonves need to be addressed. The time has passed when allegations such as those leveled against Moonves could possibly be dismissed out of hand simply because he's a powerful man in showbiz, and Colbert clearly believes that all people should be held to equal standards of accountability. Colbert and The Late Show are notorious nowadays for lampooning Donald Trump and the federal government, with Colbert as a proponent for holding officials accountable for all they have done. Going by his statement on The Late Show, he must hold his own boss to the same standard.
It's no surprise that Stephen Colbert thinks of Les Moonves as his "guy." Colbert wound up in hot water back in May 2017 after a certain joke about Donald Trump resulted in outcry from folks who wanted Colbert fired from his job as host of The Late Show. Colbert obviously was not axed from his network after that particular controversy regarding his show, which had gone through some revamps after criticism over how it worked with him in the top job early on. If Moonves was not in Colbert's corner, Colbert may have found himself out of the late night game. As it is, Colbert stayed on the air to find his groove with political commentary, and the ratings for The Late Show reflected audience enthusiasm for the show's new direction. Stephen Colbert has benefited from Les Moonves' support, but he still believes his boss should be held accountable if he's done wrong.
In the statement to the audience, Stephen Colbert also revealed that he had no idea what would happen next, and this was a situation that normally would have prompted him to call Les Moonves for some advice. Colbert acknowledged that his status as a middle-aged man with some pull in showbiz means that he may not be the ideal person to comment on the allegations against Moonves, and it's difficult to say what's in store for CBS and its lineup now that an investigation is ongoing in Les Moonves' actions. Take a look at Stephen Colbert's full speech about Les Moonves and accountability:
New episodes of The Late Show air on weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on CBS. If you need some ideas for primetime viewing in the not-too-distant future, be sure to swing by our fall TV premiere schedule.