CBS didn’t take immediate action regarding CEO Les Moonves amid accusations by multiple women of sexual harassment after board members gathered Monday to discuss the situation.
"CBS Corporation announced today that its Board of Directors is in the process of selecting outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation. No other action was taken on this matter at today’s board meeting," the company said in an statement.
The board met on Monday after a bombshell Ronan Farrow article in The New Yorker was published last week in which six women accused the longtime network exec of sexual harassment. In addition, more than two dozen company employees, past and present, detailed incidents involving harassment, gender discrimination or retaliation at the network between the 1980s and 2000s.
"I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances," Moonves said in a statement to the outlet. "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."
Following the accusations, CBS announced on Friday that it would conduct an independent investigation into the issue. The CBS board meeting on Monday reportedly was scheduled before the Moonves accusations surfaced; the company has its quarterly earnings call this week as well as a presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour, according to USA Today.
Following Monday’s board meeting, CBS announced that it postponed the company’s 2018 annual meeting of stockholders that was previously scheduled for Aug. 10 until further notice.
“CBS board’s inaction speaks volumes. The allegations against Moonves warrant investigation, however, he should step aside while that process plays out,” shareholder and National Center for Public Policy Research general counsel Justin Danhof told Fox News.
In Farrow's report, actress Illeana Douglas accused Moonves of luring her to a hotel to talk business only to make sexual advances and forcibly kiss on her.
Dinah Kirgo shared a similar story in which Moonves feigned interest in a business meeting only to pursue a dinner with her alone. Kirgo stated she believed rejecting the CBS CEO’s advances hurt her career.
Earlier on Monday, USA Today prematurely tweeted that Moonves was suspended before quickly retracting the report. “That decision has not yet been made,” the paper reported later in a correction.
Mediaite columnist Joseph Wulfsohn told Fox News he didn’t think Moonves’ career would survive the scandal, partially because the allegations were exposed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Farrow.
“It's one thing to be accused by several women of misconduct, it's another thing to be exposed by Ronan Farrow,” Wulfsohn said. “He's like the Van Helsing of alleged sexual predators.”
Major sexual misconduct scandals have inundated the media industry in recent memory with former Fox News boss Roger Ailes, former NBC News star Matt Lauer, former CBS News star Charlie Rose and political pundit Mark Halperin among the high-profile media members who already have been accused of various forms of harassment.