CBS brings in the big guns for sexual harassment inquiry

by Sol Dolor04 Aug 2018

Two former senior government lawyers will lead the inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment against Leslie Moonves, CBS chief executive.

America’s most watched network has tapped Nancy Kestenbaum, former federal prosecutor, and Mary Jo White, former US Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman, to lead an investigation into Moonves after several women accused the CEO of misconduct that includes forced touching and kissing.

Both senior lawyers are based in New York and partners at AmLaw 100 firms. Kestenbaum, of Covington & Burling, and White, of Debevoise & Plimpton, have extensive experience in advising companies and their boards on sensitive matters.

CBS has also formed an internal panel of board members – consisting of Bruce Gordon, Linda Griego, and Robert Klieger – that will assist in the inquiry.

The investigation comes as Moonves is locked in a battle for control of CBS with Shari Redstone, vice chairman of the network and daughter of media magnate Sumner Redstone. The Redstone family holds the majority of CBS voting shares.

Moonves has led the charge in trying to dilute that controlling stake and stopping a merger of CBS and Viacom, which the Redstone family is in favour of doing. The family also owns the controlling stake at Viacom.

Gordon and Griego have supported Moonves in his fight against the Redstone family. Klieger, a top entertainment lawyer in the US and partner at Los Angeles boutique law firm Hueston Hennigan, has been legal counsel for the Redstone family.

Nancy Kestenbaum and Mary Jo White