Six women have accused CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves of sexual harassment, according to Ronan Farrow’s latest report, published by The New Yorker on Friday.
Additionally, more than two dozen company employees, past and present, detailed incidents of harassment, gender discrimination, or retaliation at CBS, the report said.
In response to the story, Moonves, 68, provided a statement to The New Yorker saying, “I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances.”
He continued, “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.”
Illeana Douglas, an actress who has had roles in “Goodfellas,” “To Die For,” and many other films, spoke to Farrow and recalled meeting Moonves in 1996 and was eventually given a role in a TV show, the report said. The following year, Moonves reportedly phoned Douglas’ manager requesting a meeting for the pair to talk regarding an earlier script reading.
At that point, Douglas described the executive as being “more than just my boss,” adding that “he was very much like a father figure,” the report said.
Once at the meeting, Douglas told Farrow that she began to talk about the script when Moonves abruptly allegedly asked her if she was single.
“I didn’t know what to say at that point,” Douglas recalled. “I was, like, ‘I’m single, yes, no, maybe.'”
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) July 27, 2018
Douglas claimed that the executive asked permission to kiss her and after she tried to talk about work again, he approached her and allegedly started “violently kissing” her, Farrow’s report said.
“In a millisecond, he’s got one arm over me, pinning me,” she said.
Douglas claimed in the report that she lay motionless underneath Moonves, saying, “You sort of black out.”
“You think, How long is this going to go on? I was just looking at this nice picture of his family and his kids. I couldn’t get him off me,” she told Farrow.
She reportedly claimed the executive then lifted her skirt before asking, “So, what do you think?”
“My decision was to get out of it by joking my way out, so he feels flattered,” she told Farrow. She claimed she told him, “Yes, for the head of the network, you’re some good kisser.”
Moonves then allegedly got up off her and she seized the moment to end the meeting. As she approached the door, she claimed he got in her way and closed in, in what she described as being a “physically scary” moment, according to the report.
“He says, ‘We’re going to keep this between you and me, right?'” Douglas told Farrow.
“No, sir, we won’t tell anyone that you’re a good kisser,” she recalled saying before she left.
“It was so invasive,” Douglas told Farrow. “It has stayed with me the rest of my life, that terror.”
Dinah Kirgo, an Emmy award-winning writer of “The Tracy Ullman Show,” told Farrow that she and her sister had meetings with Moonves in the 1980s about a potential television deal, but that it ultimately went nowhere after Kirgo allegedly turned down a one-on-one dinner with Moonves.
“He said, ‘That was a great meeting; now we have to go out to dinner,'” she told the outlet. When she allegedly replied that she would be happy to schedule something alongside her sister, Moonves demurred.
“He said, ‘No, just you and me.’ He said, ‘You’re very expensive, and I need to know you’re worth it,'” Kirgo told Farrow.
“I was sort of in shock and I said, ‘Well, Leslie, I don’t think your wife would appreciate us having that kind of dinner.'”
“It’s very insidious, what he did,” she said.
CBS told Farrow that Moonves did not recall the conversation. Kirgo said she believed that rejecting Moonves’ alleged overtures hurt her career.
“It’s very insidious, what he did,” she said.
A former child star, identified only as Kimberly in the report, recalled a 1992 dinner meeting with Moonves. When the friend who coordinated the dinner stepped away, the woman said, Moonves aggressively pursued her.
“Let’s go. Let’s just get a hotel room. Let’s just do this,” she claimed Moonves said. “I said, ‘What are you talking about?'” When she said she explained that she had a child and was married, the CBS president allegedly became angered and left the restaurant.
She told Farrow that the intention to turn the meeting from professional to sexual in nature appeared to be well-rehearsed. “It was set up to be that way,” she said. “I thought, Wow, is this the way the world works, and I just don’t get it?”
The allegations of misconduct in the report were not just limited to Moonves. They also extended to multiple senior staffers and the overall network.
Jeff Fager, who served as the CBS News chairman from 2011 until 2015 — and currently serves as the executive producer of “60 Minutes” — also had multiple alleged encounters detailed.
A half-dozen employees said Fager would become intoxicated at company parties and subsequently start touching people.
“It was always, ‘Let’s go say hello to Jeff, ’cause you have to pay homage to him, but let’s do it early in the evening, before he starts getting really handsy,'” a former employee recounted to Farrow.
“It is wrong that our culture can be falsely defined by a few people with an ax to grind who are using an important movement as a weapon to get even, and not by the hundreds of women and men that have thrived, both personally and professionally, at ’60 Minutes,'” Fager said in a statement provided to The New Yorker.
But Fager, another source told Farrow, is “an enabler of this ‘Mad Men’ culture at ’60 Minutes.'”
Multiple women described CBS as a “frat house” to Farrow. “I had several producers and editors over the age of 60 who would greet me by kissing me on the mouth,” a former employee told him. “I had people touch my butt a couple times.”
A “60 Minutes” producer, Ira Rosen, reportedly told a former journalist with the program to flirt with story sources. Rosen also made multiple sexual comments, she said. Two other women reiterated similar behavior to Farrow but Rosen dismissed the claims, stating that “CBS extensively investigated these complaints and found them to be false, misleading and unsubstantiated.”
Fox News’ request for comment from CBS was not immediately returned.
Farrow won a Pulitzer Prize and helped ignite the #MeToo movement when he exposed Hollywood heavy hitter Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator in The New Yorker. This, after NBC famously passed on the story.
Farrow is set to explain his side of why NBC passed in an upcoming book.
This Fox News piece is used by permission.
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