The September 17 issue of Barron’s Magazine featured a story on the Les Moonves sexual harassment scandal/debacle at CBS by Ben Walsh titled, “Where Was the CBS Board?”
It’s a fairly damning piece, particularly because the CBS Board of Directors may let Moonves walk with a rich compensation package rumored in the $100 million range.
As Walsh writes, “The biggest responsibility directors have is the hiring and firing of CEOs, and when the CBS Board gave Moonves – at the time the Executive Chairman – his contract, they apparently did not know that at least a dozen women had credible complaints of sexual assault or harassment against him. And for at least the past nine months, they have had a chance to build a case to allow them to fire Moonves for cause and zero out his compensation. That they haven’t done so illustrates how fractured and feckless a body they are.”
But the story had a larger message – about the nature of Boards and the nature of experienced executives who have a particular talent for keeping their supposed bosses and overseers in the dark.
More Walsh: “Why didn’t they [the CBS Board] know more and know sooner? One answer is Moones himself. ‘Mr. Moonves did not reach the heights of the television industry without knowing how to navigate the terrain and guard his turf,’ the reporter John Koblin noted in the New York Times. In fact, the CBS Directors were at a specific disadvantage in finding out what was really going on at the company they oversaw.”