Some kind of writing has been on the wall for CBS head honcho Les Moonves for a few months now, ever since The New Yorker published a Ronan Farrow-penned exploration of accounts from six different women, all accusing the network head of sexual harassment. Still, everybody terrified about what might happen to this powerful multi-millionaire if he was fired from his prestigious, high-paying job were able to rest easy until now, confident that any potential departure from CBS would certainly come with some kind of big-money severance package, ensuring that our old buddy Les could live a life cheerfully free of pesky, unwanted consequences.
But maybe not: Variety reports that activists working under the banner of the TimesUp movement are calling for a change to the typical “pay to go away” approach to disgraced CEO disposal, asking that the CBS board refuse to give Moonves his standard “golden parachute” payout. Here’s the statement from a TimesUp spokesperson, writing earlier today:
This is a precedent-setting moment for CBS—and culture at large. A man accused of rigorously reported allegations of harassment should not be rewarded with a golden parachute. Les Moonves walking away with a $100 million settlement sends a message to survivors everywhere that powerful men can act without fear of consequence. We remain in solidarity with the six women who bravely shared their stories, risking their own incomes and careers, as well as the untold other women who may still be afraid to speak out.
The six women interviewed in Farrow’s piece—including actress Illeana Douglas—described a multiple-decade pattern of inappropriate behavior on Moonves’ part, often culminating in alleged instances in which he would arrange a one-on-one meetings with a woman working or hoping to work with CBS, and then take the opportunity of the isolation to make aggressive, and unwanted, sexual advances toward them.
Meanwhile, TimesUp went on to suggest today that CBS should instead donate the reported $100 million severance package to “fund the legal defenses of countless women and men facing workplace harassment and abuse across the country.” The accusations against Moonves come at a tricky time for his network, as CBS reaches what’s believed to be the closing stages of a conflict between it and its parent company, National Amusements, one that seems increasingly likely to include Moonves’ departure as one of the conditions for its settlement.