The #MeToo movement is responsible for bringing powerful men – and a few women – to their knees for past sexual indiscretions and assault. Les Moonves, the former CEO of CBS Corporation, is the latest casualty to feel ripples of hate washing over his once popular, sought-after company.
This past September, Moonves resigned after a hail of accusations surfaced of the media man subjecting female employees to harassment, forcing some to perform sexual acts, exposing himself (embarrassing), and being physically violent against those who said “no.”
The #MeToo avalanche began in 2017, when similar stories erupted from alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein, Fox News’ late Roger Ailes, former ABC executive Mark Halperin, CBS’s iconic journalist Charlie Rose, and NBC’s Matt Lauer – to name a few of more than 379 elite and influential who are accused of using force against their quarry of the month. But Moonves raised the bar on workplace predators. A recent report has the former network boss rising to the top of skeevy esprit de corps as his alleged sexual potency was assuaged by having one employee “on call to have oral sex.”
Now that is one complicated tax form to fill out.
Investigators from law firms hired by CBS, Debevoise & Plimpton and Covington & Burling, conducted an independent investigation, and have released a 59-page draft report. The document provides a detailed compilation of wrongdoing.
As disturbing as the acts allegedly committed, findings include that Moonves destroyed evidence and attempted to silence his accusers. Investigators found him “evasive and untruthful at times and to have deliberately lied about and minimized the extent of his sexual misconduct.”
Such actions are not entirely unexpected, but the unintended consequences may be harsher than the public humiliation Moonves is already experiencing. If the allegations are proven, it would mean he violated the terms of his employment agreement, and CBS would be allowed to fire Moonves for cause, revoking his golden parachute – a $120 million severance agreement. And that’s a pile of money for anyone carrying the baggage Moonves overstuffed during his heyday.
As one accuser has boldly stated to reporters, “His penis came before profits.” And that may be his Karmic demise.
What’s on the Line?
The latest unsettling details of a pillager, on the loose for decades in the ivory towers of our legacy media, call into focus his marriage to CBS on-air personality Julie Chen. As allegations began surfacing, Chen defended Moonves, calling the stories nonsense and using the stand-by-your-man response that he is a “good man and loving father, devoted husband, and inspiring corporate leader.” Yet, she stepped down from her job hosting her daytime television show The Talk.
The couple met and developed their relationship in the CBS workplace (big surprise), and are parents to nine-year-old Charlie – another victim of collateral damage in a publicly humiliating family drama. The 2004 marriage appears to remain solid, but with the latest intel surfacing, and other women emboldened by pack mentality, Chen is not appearing in public or making new and improved statements on the solidity of their union.
#MeToo Losing Momentum?
In the height of the #MeToo social movement, big names in the political, government, and entertainment industries were thrust into humiliation. More often than not, they were tossed out from their powerful positions like three-day-old fish. But few have paid any price in the criminal justice system. Is ruining a man’s career the best course of action? Will that taste of blood inspire the letting of more? Is ruining a man’s career the best course of action? Will that taste of blood inspire the letting of more?
Is ruining a man’s career the best course of action? Will that taste of blood inspire the letting of more?
If #MeToo is to have any legacy at all, victims must no longer wait decades to file complaints; charges in criminal cases must be proven – a tough mission when the events are years in the past.
The climate of Les Moonves’ fall from grace stems from acts allegedly committed decades prior. There will be no criminal prosecution, just public shaming, and vigilante righteousness – hardly a true victory for #MeToo justice warriors.