Norah O’Donnell Addresses Les Moonves Exit On ‘CBS This Morning,’ Says She and Gayle King Support CEO’s Firing

The longtime CEO exited the media conglomerate yesterday after a fresh wave of sexual misconduct allegations.

CBS This Morning co-hosts Norah O’Donnell and John Dickerson spoke about the exit of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves on the Monday edition of the CBS morning show, with O’Donnell recalling how she and co-host Gayle King, who was off Monday morning, had to deal with sexual misconduct allegations against and the exit of former co-host Charlie Rose, who Dickerson replaced.

Moonves, who recently faced a wave of sexual misconduct allegations, stepped down Sunday night from the role he’s held for more than a decade after new claims emerged Sunday morning in a fresh New Yorker piece by Ronan Farrow. CBS said it was parting ways with Moonves, naming COO Joseph Ianniello as acting CEO while the board searches for a permanent successor. CBS added that Moonves would not receive any severance benefits until the investigation into claims against him, being conducted by outside law firms, has been completed. But the disgraced executive and company will immediately donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace, it was announced.

After a report on Sunday’s developments, O’Donnell revealed how she felt about what happened to her former boss.

“This is really hard. It is. It’s hard for everybody at CBS News,” O’Donnell said. “The most powerful media executive in America has now resigned because of the #MeToo movement and he’s my boss. Or he was my boss. So that makes it really hard to comment on it. Les has always treated me fairly and with respect.”

O’Donnell continued, reflecting on the difficulty of figuring out how to respond and referencing how she and King had addressed Rose’s departure when he was swiftly fired in November, following numerous sexual misconduct claims being made against him. O’Donnell hadn’t previously revealed her feelings about the allegations against Moonves, which she acknowledged in her Monday morning comments.

“It was another sleepless night thinking about this: the pain women feel, the courage that it takes for women to come forward and talk about this,” she said. “And I really didn’t know what I was going to say this morning. I know I needed to say something, so Gayle and I have talked and texted. And I said, ‘Gayle, I’m kind of looking back to November, when we dealt with accusations against our former co-host.’ And Gayle said, ‘Yeah, but I didn’t think we’d still be the story in September.’ Ten months later, we’re still talking about this.”

She continued, “But here’s what I said back then and I think it still holds and I want to say it again: There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It’s systematic, and it is pervasive in our culture. And this I know is true, to the core of my being: Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility. So, I am really proud to work here at CBS News. This has hurt morale, but there are some really, really good people that come to work every single day. As a journalist, I am confident that the truth is going to come out, because this is being investigated. There are two prominent investigations going on by some really good lawyers. This has to end. The story will continue.”

Dickerson, who said he was “proud” to hear O’Donnell say what she did, then added that over the weekend he was “talking to somebody … who I am close to who had this happen to them 30 years ago.”

“It still stays with her,” he said. “Not only the feeling in the moment but the powerlessness afterward. And so, I couldn’t agree more with what you said.”

In a statement Sunday night, Moonves said he was “deeply saddened” to be leaving the company after “untrue allegations” were made against him.

Watch O’Donnell and Dickerson’s comments above.

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter – Hilary Lewis