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Moonves’ exit is part business, part #MeToo

With the CEO of CBS stepping down in the wake of #MeToo allegations, many are furious at the handling of Les Moonves, and the amount of compensation he is set to receive.

 

 

As CEO of the most-watched TV network in the US, it’s easy to think that you’re protected. Les Moonves, after all, shepherded his company through one of the most tumultuous periods in media history and emerged from the other side. Perhaps that might be the reasoning as to why he denied the accusations of sexual misconduct against him. Instead, Moonves expressed his regret for making “some women uncomfortable by making advances” in a statement to the New Yorker. CBS soon launched a probe into the matter, but Moonves remained in his role.

This morning, Moonves is gone, resigning his role after six more women came forward with further allegations in a second New Yorker article. Moonves is the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to be removed from power by #MeToo, which has also exposed and ended the careers of numerous Hollywood heavyweights such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. However, Moonves’ ousting has a far more corporate flair.

“Leslie Moonves has sat atop entertainment industry power lists for years, and become a model for corporate stability in his more than two decades overseeing CBS,” Brian Lowry writes. “In a business known for change and turnover, his forced departure from the network — to use an oft-referenced expression in showbiz circles — is like a head falling off Mt. Rushmore.”

As part of the deal announced Sunday, six members of CBS’s board of directors (all men) stepped down, and six new members (three men and three women) were appointed. CBS didn’t mention why the directors were ousted, or whether it was tied to their potential inaction surrounding Moonves or corporate culture issues within CBS. Farrow’s Sunday reporting indicates that at least some of CBS’s board members had been alerted to a criminal complaint filed by one of Moonves’s accusers late last year.

As for Moonves, CBS is setting up a $120 million trust to pay his severance, and plans to keep him on for a year in an (unpaid) advisory role that entitles him to an office space and home security for up to two years, announced via a filing this morning.

The question of how much he receives it certainly part of the issue, as the movement against sexual harrasment, Time’s Up, warned CBS in a statement that “the world is watching.” Rachel Bloom, the star of The CW’sCrazy Ex-Girlfriend took it further, tweeting:

 

 

As part of the deal, Moonves and CBS will apparently donate $20 million to a yet-to-be-identified organisation that supports the #MeToo movement and equality for women at work, deducted from Moonves’s severance. Despite this, the handling of the affair, and a lack of stance has left many switching off.

 

 

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