Some CBS board members wanted to stand by Les Moonves in the face of his swelling sexual misconduct scandal — but they turned on him after learning he was trying to buy one of accuser’s silence, according to a new report.
The directors began changing their mind about their chairman a month ago, after a news report revealed that a woman had previously reported the TV titan to police for forcing her to perform oral sex — and he then admitted he was trying to get another accuser a job at CBS to keep her quiet, the New York Times reports.
When the New Yorker first reported that six women were accusing Moonves of harassment or assault in July, several directors bought his pleas that the claims in the story were “grossly overstated” or lies, according to the paper.
“I don’t care if 30 more women come forward and allege this kind of stuff,” Arnold Kopelson reportedly said in a meeting at the time. “Les is our leader and it wouldn’t change my opinion of him.”
“We are going to stay in this meeting until midnight if we need to until we get an agreement that we stand 100 percent behind our CEO, and there will be no change in his status,” the paper says board member William Cohen told the other directors.
But when the LA Times followed up with a report that TV executive Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb had gone to cops last year accusing Moonves of sexual and physical assault when they worked together in the 1980s — he admitted to the directors that he’d known about the police report but didn’t tell the company because it was a “personal matter,” the Times reports.
He was then forced to submit to an interview with company investigators under threat of being fired, where he came clean that he was trying to get another accuser a gig at CBS after she threatened to go public, according to the paper.
The directors then began planning his exit — but reportedly still planned on giving him a $90-million exit package, until the New Yorker published a second story on Sunday with six more accusers who also slammed the possibility of a golden parachute.
Moonves stepped down as chairman and CEO of CBS that day, but the board is still waiting for its internal probe to wrap up before deciding if he can be fired for cause and denied a payout.
If he can’t, the 68-year-old’s contract entitles him to $120 million — but board members tell the Times it’s very likely he’ll leave without a cent.
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