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This past weekend, Leslie Moonves, the man some have considered the most powerful person in the television industry, found himself out of his job as Chairman and CEO of CBS after more allegations of misconduct emerged. Given the number of accusing parties, the departure wasn't a big surprise for those following the story, but Moonves himself is adamant that the allegations are untrue. You can read his full departure statement below...
For the past 24 years it has been an incredible privilege to lead CBS' renaissance and transformation into a leading global media company. The best part of this journey has been working alongside the dedicated and talented people in this company. Together, we built CBS into a destination where the best in the business come to work and succeed. Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am. Effective immediately I will no longer be Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS. I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company. I wish nothing but the best for the organization, the newly comprised board of directors and all of its employees.
The allegations came out in a long Ronan Farrow piece published at The New Yorker. In it, six women accuse Les Moonves of sexual misconduct including his former assistant Jessica Pallingston and Cape Fear actress Ileana Douglas. The stories occurred between the 1980s and the early to mid 2000s and are very detailed and very disturbing to read. Now, many observers are wondering how they might affect the golden parachute many ex-CEOs get when leaving a high profile job.
Last year, Moonves reportedly earned in the neighborhood of seventy million dollars. Even prior to these allegations, a possible exit from CBS has long been rumored thanks to a contentious behind-the-scenes battle with Shari Redstone. She owns a majority stake in both CBS and its former parent company Viacom and has long wanted to reunite the companies. Moonves has been way less excited about the move, and it has led to a lot of bitter feelings and lawsuits. Now, all of that has taken a backseat to these upsetting allegations.
It's unclear what exactly will happen next. For the time being, Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will take over as President and Acting CEO, and CBS has already promised to donate $20M of Moonves' exit package (whenever that gets figured out) to an organization or organizations that support the #MeToo movement. There also may be civil lawsuits, as well.
We'll keep you updated on this story as new details emerge and/ or if new alleged victims come forward.