During a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, CBS’s board of directors did not take any immediate disciplinary action against Leslie Moonves following last week’s bombshell New Yorker article in which six women accused the network’s CEO and chairman of sexual harassment.
The board “is in the process of selecting outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation,” CBS said in a press release. “No other action was taken on this matter at today’s board meeting.”
The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow reported Friday that four of the six women, including actress and writer Illeana Douglas, are accusing Moonves of attempting to forcibly kiss or touch them during business meetings. Two other women said Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened their careers.
The allegations include incidents that occurred recently and some that date back more than 20 years. The CBS chief, who has previously spoken out in support of the Me Too movement sweeping the entertainment industry, denied any wrongdoing.
“I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” Moonves said Friday in a statement. “Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.”
Moonves has been at the network since he was hired as president of CBS Entertainment in 1995.
He married CBS News anchor Julie Chen, who joined the network in 2002, in 2004. Chen issued a defense of her husband last week and said on “The Talk,” of which she is a co-host, that she will stand by her statement “today, tomorrow, forever.”
Moonves and rival Shari Redstone, who serves as vice chairwoman of CBS and Viacom, are currently embroiled in a battle over control of the network. Restone, the controlling shareholder of both CBS and Viacom, is trying to merge the two companies ― which would push out Moonves as leader of the network.