Longtime CBS CEO Les Moonves Facing Sexual Misconduct Allegations
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Longtime CBS CEO Leslie Moonves is being accused of sexual misconduct in an expose published by The New Yorker magazine. The conduct allegedly took place at various times during his more than 20-year tenure at the company. Moonves has denied the allegations, and CBS said in a statement today that it is investigating the claims.
We're joined now by journalist Ronan Farrow. He broke this story today. Farrow won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for his reporting on Harvey Weinstein for The New Yorker. He joins us on the line. Hello, Ronan.
RONAN FARROW: It's a pleasure to be here, Audie.
CORNISH: So what can you tell us about the allegations against Leslie Moonves?
FARROW: So this story is a look at both Leslie Moonves' leadership at CBS and also charges that he elevated other men around him and protected them who were accused of similar misconduct. In Moonves' case, six women overcame tremendous fear of retaliation to tell the story of sexual harassment and, in the words of more than one of these sources, assault. And these are very serious stories ranging up to and including, you know, two cases where the women in question backed by many people they told at the time and other forms of evidence said they were, you know, struggling to get out of business meetings in which Mr. Moonves was on top of them and pinning them down.
CORNISH: Can you tell us a little bit more about the women you spoke to for this story?
FARROW: Sure. With respect to Les Moonves, this is a group of women in the industry, most of whom have, you know, formidable careers of their own but still said that to this day they are terrified of Leslie Moonves. That includes the actress and writer Illeana Douglas, the writer Janet Jones, the producer Christine Peters. These are women of tremendous character and competence in their industry, but they still felt that by rebuffing advances they were putting their careers on the line. And in a number of these cases, they described active threats of retaliation.
CORNISH: You've been covering these stories for a while now. In 2017, there was the reporting on Harvey Weinstein that helped fuel the #MeToo movement. And earlier this year you also reported on the alleged physical and sexual abuse by Eric Schneiderman. Where do you see this conversation going? I mean, you - it seems like you're hearing a new name every few weeks.
FARROW: I'm glad you asked that, Audie. The reason among many reasons that I felt this story was an important next step in the conversation is because while we've seen incredible bravery from sources stepping forward about individuals in power, we haven't seen I think this kind of groundswell of allegations against someone who is still so deeply entwined in hundreds of millions of dollars of routine business with every aspect of the media world, who is really at the apex of the financial fortunes of an industry and who also commands one of the most important and culturally influential corporations in the world underneath him.
CORNISH: You've said that the #MeToo movement is not about removing the powerful, yet in some ways it's done that. What would you say it's about?
FARROW: I think this is about shedding light on these important stories. There needs to be careful investigative reporting and hopefully, in cases where it merits it, criminal proceedings to look at those charges. I don't think this should be a free-for-all. But I think I have been profoundly grateful for the many reporters shining a spotlight on those stories. I think there should be accountability wherever possible and wherever fair. But I do not think that the objective of the people in this story, for instance, was to bring anyone down, including Leslie Moonves. The objective was to finally be heard.
CORNISH: That's Ronan Farrow. He broke the story today on sexual misconduct allegations against CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. Ronan, thanks for speaking with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
FARROW: It's a pleasure, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.