The #metoo movement and Les Moonves, the head of CBS. Should he be fired?

Ronan Farrow wrote an article for the New Yorker titled Les Moonves and CBS Face Allegations of Sexual Misconduct In it, Farrow describes how six women have accused Moonves, the head of CBS, of sexually assaulting them and then threatening them into silence, which affected many of their careers.

In response to the allegations, Moonves put out a statement:

I really like this clip by Stephen Colbert on his show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In it, he talks about how Les Moonves, his boss, friend and mentor, just got accused of sexual misconduct.

Colbert says that it’s the one year anniversary of the #metoo movement and this is when his boss is accused of sexual misconduct. He’s caught in the middle, but he’s clear to say that “Accountability Is Meaningless Unless It’s For Everybody” which is the title of the video.

He says that people have asked him what should happen to his boss, Les Moonves. He talks about how sexual harassment is wrong now and everyone knows it’s wrong. But everyone knew it was wrong then and we know that everyone knew it was wrong then because of the lengths to which powerful men covered it up in the past. He talks about the issue of the disappearing of the accused from public life and whether that’s the right thing. He also understands there’s a reason for it. He quotes JFK, saying “those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”

Women have suffered with the systemic abuse of powerful men for so long that the backlash is now swift and demands that the accused step out of the limelight to prove that they’re no longer abusing their power. Colbert says that he believes in accountability even if Les Moonves is “my guy” because accountability is meaningless unless it’s for everybody.

Following this broadcast, true to form, Moonves didn’t address the sexual misconduct allegations in the CBS earnings call which some people are saying speaks volumes about the elephant in the room.

So far, nothing has happened to Les Moonves. The police have declined to press charges because the statute of limitations has expired on the one incident that was reported to the police.

I personally could not be less surprised by the allegations against Les Moonves if I tried. Moonves left his wife in the same year he married his much younger wife, Julie Chen, who now has shows on the network, obviously gotten through his power. That he abuses his power and women doesn’t surprise me.*

Do you think Les Moonves should be fired? If not, what should happen to him regarding these allegations?

A public poll follows.

*another person that would not shock me if he was accused is Colbert himself, although there’s nothing to indicate he’s done anything wrong. But could he really be as blind as he claims to be about all these men? I’ve wondered that more than once.

It’s kinda hard to answer your poll since I would want to pick multiple options.

I think we need to fire him. I think he should face charges or lawsuits if any of those involve want to go that route. Censure is too soft.

Since plenty of others have had their careers, even their lives, ruined over nothing more than allegations, I think it fitting that Moonves go down just as hard as any other mortal.

I read the article in The New Yorker, and it should be shocking but there is so much of it. The option I’d go for would be an investigation to see if he really hurt the careers of the women he assaulted and who refused him. If that is true (and I am guessing it is) it is a firing offense. They also should be easier to prove than the assaults themselves.

He’s greatful to Moonves for giving him the opportunity and for sticking by the show when the ratings were low. How much time do you think they spend face to face? It’s not like they are hanging out in the office together.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit, even while reading the article myself. How would one prove that Moonves’ actions were the catalyst for the lack of success of anyone he allegedly assaulted. For example, Illeana Douglas became well-known and successful after her encounter with Moonves. Would she have been more successful or had more projects with CBS if Moonves hadn’t locked her out? She says he’s the reason that she was blocked out of any projects with CBS. He has said that he hasn’t blocked anyone. He could just claim in his opinion, the projects she was working on didn’t fit in with the CBS schedule. How could she prove that it was other reasons that she didn’t get more jobs at CBS?

Agreed, Colbert was pretty clear about the reasons that he might have been blind to Moonves’ misconduct. But really, in this case, there wasn’t much opportunity to notice the alleged incidents. Moonves’ allegations were from the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. By the time Colbert was working with him, there might have been less going on.

I didn’t go into much detail about my sidenote because it is a sidenote, but I was more discussing the surprise he expressed about so many of the men in the entertainment industry. He was supposedly surprised about Louis CK. But Louis CK’s misconduct wasn’t much of a secret. To many women in the industry, it was common knowledge, they’ve claimed. He was surprised by Charlie Rose, someone he had on the show a couple weeks earlier. He was surprised by Matt Lauer. Each got a joke or two in the monologue, enough that the audience is sure whose side he’s on, but that’s about it.

Colbert works in this industry. The women in the industry were relieved, as he notes in this clip. Most of the women were not surprised. And yet, he’s surprised each and every time, giving a token joke to each.

This is just my observation, and maybe not even a fair one since what else can they do if it’s true, but when a powerful man in the entertainment industry claims to be surprised with each new allegation of the people they work with and then gives moralizing speeches about their conduct, I’m suspicious. One common factor in most of the cases is that the men accused have given moralizing speeches about the damage caused by sexual harassment. And many of them are championing women’s causes when they’re accused.

It makes me wonder why Colbert was blind to everything going on around him. If he wasn’t blind to it, shouldn’t he have done more to stop it?

Most those men you mentioned are not people he worked with. They are people he probably met several times in limited public or quasi-private situations. They were all probably very nice and charming to him. It’s not much different than if the barber you see every two weeks is accused of something horrible. He’s been really nice to you and seemed like a really nice guy so it’s shocking when they found all those heads in his basement. The only one he worked with was Louis CK and that was 20 years ago on a very short lived tv show. Maybe if it was Steve Carrell or Jon Stewart your point would be stronger.

I disagree. I don’t mean that he should have caught anyone red-handed or have first-hand evidence of someone doing sexual misconduct. I just mean that he would have heard rumors.

Matt Lauer’s womanizing was so well-known that there are skits about it. People in the industry had to have heard about it. Some people say they were surprised that the womanizing wasn’t consensual, and that may be true. But most people working in the field probably had heard the rumors.

It’s Colbert’s job to know what’s going on in the news and what and who is noteworthy. Even people who work in other industries who don’t have jobs knowing what’s newsworthy, hear gossip about people in their industry. It’s hard for me to believe that he was completely unaware of the rumors.

Beyond that, there was a culture within his own network that allowed misconduct.

At least 30 other people in the company knew of significant misbehavior. If he was completely unaware of it, he was one of the more clueless about it. For someone whose job it is to be aware of what’s going on around them, I find it surprising how little he seems to know.

…you don’t know this. You literally can’t know this.

It doesn’t work like that. It isn’t Colbert’s job to literally know everything in the world.

CBS has 16,000 employees. If Colbert is “clueless” then there are at least another 15,000 people that were clueless as well. Colbert’s job isn’t to be “aware of what’s going on around him.” He hosts a late-night talk show.

I think you have an unrealistic view of what the culture is like. A nightly show like Colbert has got to be insulated. Everyday come in and write and show prep. You think he really has any interaction with people at the corporate headquarters? It’s his job to know what’s happening in the world not office gossip. I would be very surprised if he had contact with anyone outside of his show on the network. It’s a daily grind that doesn’t leave room for much else.

Yep, just my opinion. But I’m not mad about Colbert. I just wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he did things people weren’t aware of.

Getting a leading role in a series is pretty much the definition of being successful. She was fired, she pushed back, and then she got given another role and the money owed to her.
But whether there were reprisals is what the investigation would be about. That isn’t something that would be visible without a lot of digging and a lot of interviews.
If I had lost control and attacked someone, the last thing I would do would be to show up on the set her first day. I’d be way too ashamed. That is evidence right there, but not enough to convict him.

I’ll just have to take your word that yours is a more realistic view based on no evidence that you’ve presented here.

Yes, at the very least he had communications with Les Moonves who was at corporate headquarters. i wouldn’t be surprised if he would have interacted with people before and after those meetings, perhaps to coordinate the meetings, if nothing else. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he knew people in the news sections of the company. Since news is his business, he might have gotten some of it straight from the source.

Some people know about office gossip, even when it’s not their job. Or so I’ve heard.

I’d be surprised if he didn’t have contact with people outside his show.

Les Moonves is now out of CBS, after more harassment allegations.

Les Moonves is out at CBS after harassment allegations, corporate battle
Stephen Colbert did a quick bit in his monologue about it.

Also, Stephen Colbert’s typical day in a TimesTalk interview. (starts at around the 2 minute mark)

You might just as well ask the same question about Julie Chen, aka, Mrs. Les Moonves. Among her other duties for CBS, Ms. Chen is cohost of The Talk, a daily show where a group of women talk about issues of interest to women. Julie Chen has made exactly one public statement (on Twitter) concerning the allegations against her husband, where she “fully” supported him.

Was she blind to what was going on with her husband? Should she have done more to to stop it?

We can’t ask her right now, because she’s “taking a few days off” to spend with her family. But what about Chen’s cohost, Sharon Osbourne? Back in July she tweeted

Should Osbourne have known more about what Julie Chen’s husband was doing? Once she saw the New Yorker article, should she have come up with a stronger statement than, “seems like an attempt to discredit Leslie”?

Interesting. When I made the statement about Colbert, I was thinking about him knowing about Louis CK. I was thinking about it because I had heard others like Tig Notaro say that she had known about Louis CK for a long time and that people in the comedy field all knew about him. She felt it was commonly known. When the allegations came out about Louis CK, I had read more than once that people felt that his behavior was commonly known.

I wasn’t actually thinking that Colbert knew about Moonves. Until yesterday, the allegations were generally from the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s. It was possible to believe at that time that Moonves stopped his bad behavior when he married Chen, so maybe Colbert didn’t know about it. I hadn’t heard that Moonves’ behavior was commonly known in the industry, although maybe it was.

Yesterday, I was surprised to read that some of the allegations were made for more recent bad behavior.

As far as Julie Chen, it’s easy for me to believe that she didn’t know about what her husband was doing, particularly until yesterday’s reports. But even then, I think it’s pretty easy to hide things from a particular person if someone is working at it.

The other reason I mentioned Colbert as a footnote was a gut feeling. Not anything I have proof about, and I tried to make that clear. IME, men who are over-the-top in their condemnation of the actions of others about something are sometimes doing that thing themselves. In many of the stories of sexual harassers, I’ve noticed a tendency for many of them to have been seen as the champions of women’s rights. Perhaps it’s not fair to make an implication like that with no evidence. That’s why it was just a tiny footnote.

‘Designing Women’ Creator Goes Public With Les Moonves War: Not All Harassment Is Sexual (Guest Column)

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason writes about how Moonves is just an overall abusive person and he sabotaged her career for seven years simply out of spite.

Sadly, you probably could say something similar about every head of every network and movie studio since the dawn of time.

60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager was also fired today. There’s been talk for years about 60 Minutes being a sinkhole of harassment. The official announcement didn’t make clear what Fager did, however.

The public has the ability to persuade companies that allowing non-sexual harassment and abusive behavior is just as unacceptable as allowing sexual harassment and abusive behavior.

I wish it did. Sexual harassment is easy to grasp and visceral. Even so, the number of people who boycotted CBS in the interval between Farrow’s first article and his firing is minuscule. His not giving work to someone he’d already paid $50 million to is never going to spark a boycott or anything else.

Those intangibles will change with more diversity in executive suites but the lack of it is not going to change ordinary consumers’ behavior.