Simon & Schuster US president and c.e.o. Carolyn Reidy has spoken out in support of CBS head Leslie Moonves following multiple allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him.
Reidy issued a statement to say she had been “heartened and deeply impressed” by Moonves, who is the chairman of c.e.o. of S&S parent company CBS, a mass media corporation focused on commercial broadcasting, publishing, and television production in America. The comments are in response to a New Yorker article by investigative journalist Ronan Farrow, which details the allegations of six women who had professional dealings with Moonves and allege sexual misconduct between the 1980’s and late 2000’s. Moonves denies the allegations, saying that he had made “mistakes” but never “misused” his position.
"Four (women) described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine,” Farrow writes. "Two told me that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers. All said that he became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.”
Reidy issued a statement which said that while she does not wish to “question the accounts” of the women in the article, she says the description is “not recognisable” as the man she has worked with.
"I have directly reported to Leslie Moonves for nearly 12 years, and during all that time I have been heartened and deeply impressed by the way in which women have been promoted and championed under his leadership at CBS, treated as equals and rewarded for their accomplishments and talent,” she said. "He has always been supportive, straightforward, and helpful to me and Simon & Schuster. While it is not my desire or intent to question the accounts of the women in the New Yorker article, I can without hesitation state that the Leslie Moonves described therein is not recognisable as the man with whom I have been personally and professionally privileged to work.”
Moonves had previously “become a prominent voice in Hollywood’s #MeToo movement” according to the New Yorker article. The #MeToo movement champions women’s voices against sexual harassmentfollowing Farrow’s previous investigation into Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein which was published last autumn.
Hollywood actress Illeana Douglas has alleged sexual misconduct against Moonves and a prominent actress, who spoke to Farrow anonymously for fear of reprisals, said she was asked to write a book for S&S US after experiencing unwanted sexual advances from Moonves.
"Almost two decades later, an executive at CBS contacted her about coming back to the network,” Farrow writes. "It turned out that the executive wanted her to sign a book deal with Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS."
Moonves has responded directly to the allegations acknowledging he had made “mistakes” but that he never “misused” his position.
He told the New Yorker: “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognise that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. 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. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”
CBS told Farrow that there have been no misconduct claims and no settlements against Moonves during his 24 years at the network.
The CBS Board of Directors announced on Monday (30th July) it was "in the process of selecting outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation" of Moonves following Farrow's report, according to USA Today.
Reidy joined S&S in 1992 and rose through the ranks before becoming head of adult publishing. In 2007 when she was named by Moonves to succeed Jack Romanos, who was retiring.