Longtime CBS boss Les Moonves has been called out by one of his most important employees. Stephen Colbert, host of CBS’s Late Show and the most prominent public face at the network, said that Moonves—like everyone else credibly accused of sexual harassment—needs to be held accountable for his actions.
Moonves, who joined CBS in 1995 and has served as its chairman and CEO since 2003, was accused of harassment and intimidation by six women, according to a July 27 New Yorker article by reporter Ronan Farrow. Four of the women alleged Moonves forcibly touched or kissed them, while two others said the CEO physically intimidated them and threatened to ruin their careers. In a statement to the New Yorker, Moonves admitted he may have made “advances” on women decades ago, but said he always abided by the “‘no’ means ‘no'” rule and never used his position of power to derail a woman’s career.
While CBS mulls its options (its board of directors announced it will hire outside investigators), Colbert decided to address the elephant in the room during his first Late Show since the explosive New Yorker report.
“Everybody believes in accountability until it’s their guy,” Colbert said in an expressive four-minute monologue at his desk last night (July 30). “Make no mistake, Les Moonves is my guy. He hired me to sit in this chair. He stood behind this show while we were struggling to find our voice. He gave us the time and resources to succeed, and he has stood by us when people were mad at me, and I like working for him.”
“But accountability is meaningless unless it’s for everybody—whether it’s the leader of a network, or the leader of the free world.”
Moonves has been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement, even helping to found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, which is chaired by Anita Hill. In light of the allegations, the commission distanced itself from Moonves.
Earlier in the show, Colbert briefly alluded to the allegations against Moonves during his normal monologue, promising to address it afterward. “I heard that there was an article about CBS chairman—and [a] man I hope isn’t watching tonight’s monologue—Les Moonves,” he joked (video). “I’ll have some more to say on this over there at the desk later, assuming we make it past the commercial break.”