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Some CBS News employees call for transparency and accountability from CBS board

Former CBS CEO Moonves denied $120M severance

The day after the CBS board of directors said its investigation into former CEO Leslie Moonves and workplace culture issues was complete, some CBS News employees and others were calling for the board to be more open about the findings.  

On Tuesday morning, Gayle King, co-host of "CBS This Morning," said: "The board says they want transparency and they want to do the right thing. I'm also from the camp of we have to see what's in the report so we know exactly what we're dealing with and how you can change it, and how you can get rid of the people that no longer need to be here who are still involved in whatever this behavior is." 

Co-host Norah O'Donnell said a "reckoning" at the company is underway. "You can't provide solutions until you know fully what the problem is, and what exists, and so that secrecy that still exists, the people that have covered up that behavior, that still needs to be clarified," O'Donnell said. "We have been promised that a new day is on the horizon, and we are holding firm to that idea." 

The board hired two law firms in August to lead an investigation into workplace conditions at CBS. The CBS board has not said whether it will release the findings. Acting CEO Joe Ianniello, CBS News president David Rhodes and a representative for the board declined to comment. 

Gloria Allred, who represents four women who claim to be victims of ousted CEO Leslie Moonves, is also pushing for CBS to release the findings. 

"I think that the full report of the investigators hired by the CBS Board should be made public, except that the names of any alleged victims and their allegations, which are included in the report should be redacted, unless CBS obtains the permission of the alleged victims to release their information publicly," Allred said in an emailed statement. "The public has a right to know who at CBS was  aware of Mr. Moonves' alleged misconduct and when they knew of it." 

Moonves was pushed out on September 9, and the board said Monday he was terminated "for cause" and would not receive a severance payment of $120 million. In a statement Monday, an attorney for Moonves said: "The conclusions of the CBS board were foreordained and are without merit. ... Mr. Moonves vehemently denies any non-consensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators."

Moonves has the right to fight the decision through arbitration, though he hasn't said whether he would. On Tuesday, he told a Financial Times publication, Agenda, that the issue is "far from over." Moonves' employment contract and separation agreement says that CBS would pay his legal fees.  

After the release of the board statement on Monday evening, CBS News heard from 19 CBS News employees, several of whom were senior. Six of them said the findings should be released to ensure the integrity of the investigation and accountability. 

"Secrecy allowed the problems at CBS to fester for decades. Management's response has been to cloak their investigation in more secrecy," said one employee, who has been with the company seven years. "How do we know problems were actually addressed and people held accountable? Without transparency, this process has zero credibility. They must release the investigators' report."

Another CBS News employee, who has worked at CBS for more than 10 years, asked if months of investigation should be summed up in a short email.

"Personally – if this statement from the board is all we are getting after months of investigations (multiple investigations all brought under one umbrella), I find it disappointing and lacking," the employee said. "I do understand there are legal limitations as to what can be released and revealed, but in light of investigations into Moonves, CBS News, and broader cultural issues at CBS – I had hoped for a more complete accounting of the findings, lessons learned and proposed actions."

Some CBS News employees acknowledged progress. One described the actions by the board as a "step in the right direction" and another expressed "hope we can move on." One employee was "optimistic."

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