This Business with Les Moonves

Of all the people who have been accused of sexual improprieties, CBS head honcho Les Moonves comes as kind of a shock. At least outside looking in. He always seemed the perfect example of media mogul. Unless you’ve been in a cave, Moonves was, allegedly, far from perfect.

Even if a fraction of what is alleged is true (as of this writing the count is up to seven accusers), it’s clear Moonves has got to go. It’s the only respectable course of action.

These allegations must be taken more seriously than they are (I’m looking at you CBS) and the fact that the CBS board voted on Monday to keep Moonves in place is painfully disappointing … and borders on downright offensive (I get the current legal brouhaha that CBS is in with the Redstone family, but these are people’s lives. Do we really value money over a life? Oh, wait … my bad.) But what can you expect from a board that has eleven men and only three women, where the average age is 74? 74?!

I’m almost surprised they didn’t reward Moonves with a box of cigars for “making it into the club”.

When the story about Moonves started popping up in the media last week, I was like a lot of people and started thinking things like, “Why are these accusations taking place now?”, “How do we know they’re not crying wolf?” and super dumb, male, over-privileged things like that.

And then I had a good think on it and it became very clear that this type of sexual assault is evidently quite systemic. I know, “Well, yea. Duh.” Yes, we’ve heard the stories about Weinstein (not shocking), Brett Ratner (not shocking), Matt Lauer (not shocking), Charlie Rose (kinda shocking, we all thought he woulda been too drunk to be a pig) and on and on. Most of them, as awful as their behavior is alleged to have been, just weren’t too surprising.

On the other hand, Moonves was the blue-chip media executive who appeared to carry himself with a profound confidence and, when paired with his business and management acumen, helped make him revered in the industry; and helped CBS become the juggernaut that it is today. 

Okay, maybe his programming slate for the network was a little too CSI and NCIS heavy, but it worked. So, it is hard to imagine a guy like that, like Les Moonves, behaving like a frat boy on a Friday night … or a drunk salesman at last call … or a presidential candidate (take your pick, quite a few to choose from on either side).

He really seemed like a guy who would be above this sort of thing. Egg on our face. I also thought that when called out Moonves would have the mettle to show more contrition and sensitivity than “I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances …”

Mr. Moonves, being a creep at a bar trying to get a woman to pay attention to you would qualify as “uncomfortable”; what you’re alleged to have done sounds more like assault and, from what I read, actually borders on “rapey”. Dude, that’s not cool and simply can’t be tolerated.  

It’s becoming more evident that we men seem to behave abhorrently in the presence of women in far too many situations. No more lip service fellas, that really needs to stop. Yea, I know, “Well, yea. Duh.”

So yes, it’s a bummer to watch one of the most respected men in television, in media, hell, in business, get called out and accused of being a sexual predator.

But it’s infinitely worse for the women who’ve suffered his behavior.

On his own or by force, Les Moonves has to go.

A version of this was originally published at, August 1, 2018