New misconduct allegations levied against Moonves

Les Moonves, chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation. (AP)
Updated 05 December 2018

New misconduct allegations levied against Moonves

NEW YORK: An internal investigation of former CBS chief Les Moonves has turned up more evidence of sexual misconduct as well as lying and destruction of evidence, throwing into jeopardy his $120 million severance package, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
A look at what's known about the scandal so far:
THE LATEST
Lawyers hired by the network allege in a draft report that the TV executive committed "multiple acts of serious nonconsensual sexual misconduct" before and after he came to CBS in 1995, according to the Times. He also deleted numerous text messages and was "evasive and untruthful at times" under questioning, the report says.
Among other things, investigators received reports about a network employee who was "on call" to perform oral sex on Moonves. Investigators also found that he received oral sex from at least four CBS employees "under circumstances that sound transactional and improper to the extent that there was no hint of any relationship, romance, or reciprocity."
The investigators say they interviewed 11 of the 17 women they knew had accused Moonves of misconduct and found their accounts credible.
The 59-page report is to be presented to CBS's board of directors before the company's annual meeting next week, the Times said.
THE REACTION
A lawyer for Moonves, Andrew J. Levander, said in a statement that Moonves said he cooperated "extensively and fully" with investigators.
The former CEO "vehemently denies having any non-consensual sexual relations. He never put or kept someone on the payroll for the purpose of sex," the attorney said.
CBS declined to comment.
THE BACKSTORY
Moonves, largely credited with turning CBS around, was forced out in September, after The New Yorker published allegations from 12 women who said he subjected them to mistreatment that included forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.
Moonves denied the accusations, though he said he had consensual relations with some of the women.
Moonves, 69, is one of the most powerful entertainment industry figures to be brought down by the #MeToo movement. Others include Hollywood studio boss Harvey Weinstein, NBC "Today" show host Matt Lauer and PBS talk show host Charlie Rose.
Moonves made his mark at CBS with sitcoms such as "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory," reality TV such as "Survivor" and procedural dramas like "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "NCIS."
THE CONTRACT
Moonves was one of the highest-paid executives in the nation, making a total of nearly $140 million in the two years before he lost his job.
In a move that appalled women's activists and others, CBS said at the time of his departure that it set aside $120 million in severance for him. But the network warned he will lose the money if the board concludes it had cause to terminate him.
In their report, the lawyers say the network has grounds to deny him his severance. They say his pattern of behavior "arguably constitutes willful misfeasance and violation of the company's sexual harassment policy."
THE INVESTIGATORS
The investigation began in August and is being led by two former federal prosecutors now with highly regarded law firms: Nancy Kestenbaum and Mary Jo White, who was also head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In a statement to the Times, the investigators said: "Our work is still in progress and there are bound to be many facts and assessments that evolve and change as the work is completed."


Is Trump’s love affair with Fox News fading?

Updated 19 August 2019

Is Trump’s love affair with Fox News fading?

  • Trump appears to be tilting his media gaze toward a more right-wing rival, cable outfit OANN
  • Since March Trump has tweeted links to OANN stories or shared his appreciation of the network 13 times

WASHINGTON: Last month after Donald Trump watched Fox News lob what he called “softball questions” at a Democratic lawmaker, the US president delivered a crisp smackdown of his favorite network: “Fox sure ain’t what it used to be.”
After years of often fawning coverage by Fox, particularly from its pro-Trump anchors like Sean Hannity, the commander in chief appears to be tilting his media gaze toward a younger, more right-wing rival, cable outfit One America News Network (OANN).
The small upstart broadcaster was launched only recently, in 2013, by technology millionaire Robert Herring, who sought a more conservative alternative to mainstream media behemoths like CNN.
Today it seeks to outfox Fox by drawing extra attention from Trump, who has been voicing his displeasure with the ratings leader over everything from presidential polling to its hosting of Democratic candidate town halls.
Last week in a tweet to his 63 million followers, the president managed to disparage Fox and his mainstream news foil CNN, while heaping praise on the new object of his media affection.
“Watching Fake News CNN is better than watching Shepard Smith, the lowest rated show on @FoxNews. Actually, whenever possible, I turn to @OANN!” Trump posted.
Since March he has tweeted links to OANN stories or shared his appreciation of the network 13 times.
The relationship has been years in the making. In 2015 Trump was interviewed by Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, when she guest-hosted OANN’s show “On Point.”
At his first press conference as president-elect, in January 2017, Trump took a question from an OANN reporter. OANN was then called on dozens of times at the daily briefings in Trump’s first 100 days in office.
During his June 2018 press conference in Singapore, following the summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Trump took a question from OANN White House correspondent Emerald Robinson, but not before gushing about her network.
“Thank you for the nice way you treat us. We appreciate it,” he said. “Really, it’s very good. It’s really beautiful what you do.”
The San Diego-based operation describes itself as “straight news, no opinion.” But the pro-Trump agenda is crystal clear, more than a dozen current and former employees told The Washington Post in 2017.
Herring himself, in his pinned tweet, describes OANN as “the president’s favorite new outlet.”
When Fox cut away from broadcasting a Trump rally in New Hampshire on Thursday, Herring tweeted, “We will never cut away!“

Purveyor of conspiracy theories
OANN has faced accusations of promoting conspiracy theories and peddling Kremlin propaganda.
“Yeah, we like Russia here,” a staffer assigned to brief new OANN producer Ernest Champell told him, according to The Daily Beast. Champell left, disillusioned, four months later.
“The network has a history of race-baiting and presenting anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-abortion reporting,” according to Media Matters, a progressive nonprofit group that says its mission is “analyzing and correcting conservative misinformation.”
While OANN’s influence in the White House may far outweigh its position in the news media landscape, Trump clearly retains an affinity for several people in the Fox organization.
The show “Fox & Friends” remains his go-to morning program; Trump has phoned in on numerous occasions as president.
Perhaps that is why Democratic longshot contender Julian Castro purchased ad time during “Fox & Friends” this week, airing a spot in which he directly addresses Trump and blames him for inspiring the El Paso shooter who massacred 22 people early this month.

Trump jealous
Sean Hannity, the network’s popular anchor, appeared alongside Trump at a campaign rally ahead of the 2018 mid-terms.
But friction emerged this week when Hannity expressed support for CNN anchor Chris Cuomo after a video of Cuomo in a heated argument at a New York bar went viral.
It was a sharp contrast to Trump, who tweeted that Cuomo — the brother of New York’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo — was “nuts” and showed a “total loss of control” in the incident.
The president expressed frustration when Fox aired multiple town halls in recent months featuring Democrats who are trying to unseat him in 2020, including South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, currently fifth in major polling.
“Hard to believe that @FoxNews is wasting airtime on Mayor Pete,” Trump tweeted in May. “Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems.”
Fox News presidential polling is also a concern for Trump, whose job approval rating in the network’s mid-August poll dipped substantially, to 43 percent, while his disapproval rating spiked to 56 percent, its highest since October 2017.
In head-to-head matchups, the poll shows Trump losing to major Democratic candidates, including to frontrunner Joe Biden by 12 percentage points and to liberal Bernie Sanders by nine.
Fox polls “have always been terrible to me,” he tweeted in late July.