CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves accused of sexually harassing women for nearly three decades

The allegations are published by the same journalist who exposed the Harvey Weinstein scandal


Leslie Moonves, the chief executive officer and board chairman of the CBS Corporation, has joined the ranks of powerful Hollywood men accused of decades of sexual harassment.

In a feature article in The New Yorker, leaked before its official publication in the Aug 6 and 13 issues of the weekly magazine, six women allege that Mr Moonves used his prominent position to harass and exploit them for decades, starting around 1990.

Mr Moonves, 68, whose behavior is now under investigation by a special CBS board, has denied the allegations of sexual assault.

However, in a statement to The New Yorker he said: “I recognize 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.”

Mr Moonves was born into a Jewish family in New York City, the son of Josephine Schleifer and Herman Moonves, and grew up in Valley Stream in New York State.

He has an unusual connection to the founders of the modern state of Israel as the grandnephew of Paula Ben-Gurion, the wife of Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion.

In general, he has not emphasised his Jewishness in public, but neither has he tried to hide it. He practices transcendental meditation, he told reporters, “Just before going to bed …it puts me in a calm state, which I’m not always in.”

His first wife, Nancy Wiesenfeld, with whom he has three children, is Jewish.

After a divorce, he married TV personality Julie Chen.

Typical of many American Jews, he often tends to treat his ethnicity in a jocular manner.

After moving the highly publicised announcement of his network’s upcoming prime time schedule to Carnegie Hall, New York’s prestigious music centre, he told the audience: “You know this is my tenth time playing Carnegie Hall…I believe that’s a record for a Jew without an instrument.”

Mr Moonves revealed some of his Jewish sensitivities in an interview with this reporter in 2003, shortly before CBS programmed a four-hour miniseries on the early life of Adolf Hitler.

The project came under heavy fire from media critics and Jewish community representatives, and in the interview Mr Moonves acknowledged that “there are nights when I lay in bed, looking up at the ceiling and asking myself, ‘Is this the right thing to do? Will it open old wounds? Are we creating more antisemitism?’”

The two-part New Yorker article on Mr Moonves was written by Ronan Farrow, the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow.

He wrote the earlier article in the same magazine on the sexual harassment charges against another Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein.

That piece earned Mr Farrow a Pulitzer Prize and helped launch the #Me Too movement, rallying women to come out openly against the perpetrators of sexual harassment

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