The programming chief at CBS Corp. defended the company’s culture Sunday, amid allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against Chief Executive Leslie Moonves.
“Obviously, this has been a tough week at CBS.”
“Leslie has been an excellent boss and a mentor for a long time. He put me in this job,” CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl told reporters at the annual Television Critics Association press tour Sunday. “At the same time, we must respect the voices that come forward. All allegations need to be and are being taken seriously.”
In a New Yorker article published last month, Moonves, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, was accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct by six women. Last week, CBS announced it had hired outside law firms to conduct an investigation into Moonves’ behavior, but did not suspend him while the investigation was underway.
On CBS’s earnings call Thursday, a company official banned questions about the allegations against Moonves, and no Wall Street analysts asked about it, despite the fact that CBS shares CBS, +0.83% have fallen around 10% since word of the accusations. CBS stock is also down about 10% year to date.
Kahl said Sunday his staff was “dismayed” by the charges, but he did not comment on them specifically. “I’ve had many female colleagues come to me this week who’ve been saddened by what they’ve read about our company. They said it does not represent their experience at CBS. I’m not saying we’re perfect — no large company is — and there’s always room for improvement,” he said, according to Rolling Stone.
Kahl also noted improvements to the company’s diversity at all levels, from executives to those behind the camera. “We have record levels of diverse actors on our shows, diverse writers,” he said, according to Variety. “We are a big tent network and we want to appeal to as broad an audience as possible.”
Separately, CBS News said Jeff Fager, who is executive producer of “60 Minutes,” will extend his vacation amid an investigation into the show’s workplace culture. In the same New Yorker article that detailed the charges against Moonves, “60 Minutes” was said to tolerate discrimination and sexual harassment at work.