Shari Redstone Has Clashed with CBS CEO Les Moonves. Now She’s Playing a Role in Determining His Fate.
The board of CBS is pondering CEO Les Moonves’s future—and possibly the future of the network.
On Friday, word got out that The New Yorker was about to publish allegations that Moonves sexually harassed six women. Shares in the company dropped by 6.3% and the network released a statement vowing to look into the allegations. (Moonves, for his part, acknowledges that he may have “made some women uncomfortable” with his advances decades ago says he’s always abided by the “‘no’ means ‘no,'” principle.)
Now it’s Monday, and the board is tasked with figuring out how to approach that investigation during their normally scheduled meeting. They’re expected to select a special committee to oversee the investigation into Moonves’s conduct and the broader culture at CBS, which will reportedly be carried out by an outside law firm. However, The Wall Street Journal also reported that some of the directors had discussed over the weekend whether Moonves should step down.
The CBS board includes one director who—apart from The New Yorker bombshell—has an especially tense relationship with Moonves: Shari Redstone, whose father Sumner Redstone serves as chairman emeritus.
Shari Redstone is the head of CBS parent National Amusements, which wants to re-merge CBS with sister company Viacom but Moonves and others on the board have pushed back, leading the fight to be portrayed as one between Redstone and the CBS chief executive. The outcome of Monday’s meeting could clear the way for Redstone to push through the merger that Moonves has led the charge against. A lawsuit over the potential merger is scheduled to go to court this fall.
Shari Redstone is the second in the family to assume the role of National Amusements’ representative on the CBS board, and the second to clash with Moonves. She assumed the role from her ailing father, Sumner Redstone, whose decline was documented in a three part series by Fortune in 2016.