Is anyone startled that Les Moonves stepped down from his position at CBS on Sunday?
For decades, Les Moonves has blazed the type of career in television that is worthy of textbook inclusion. From his meteoric rise in the 80s to his ascension to Office of President of CBS in the 90s, he has set the tone of that network with a firm hand and seemingly on point instincts about programming. Under his guard reality shows like Survivor and Big Brother changed the way that people consumed this popcorn style of television, adding the heavy butter of action, adventure and social conflict in ways never before seen. But he also snazzed up the lackluster weekly line-up with hit series like Everybody Loves Raymond, the CSI (franchise) and The Big Bang Theory. In less than 10 years, he became president and CEO of CBS Corp., overseeing the network, Simon & Schuster and its cable network sister, Showtime. Exactly, 10 years later in 2016, he was named the chairman of the CBS Board. On September 9, 2018, he gave this all up in the breaking allegations that he missed used his powers to get some nookie from women he worked with or who worked for him.
On the outside looking in, you can model his timelines with other moguls in the music industry like Sean Combs, Shawn Carter and perhaps even Baby and Slim Williams. Using their business savvy, they all (including Moonves) have made the money moves that innovate and entertain. Seemingly, creating content to push culture forward (sorta). But what does that look like? And does those “money moves” matter at the expense of foul practices in the office space. But this is not about those rapper guys… it is about the now booted Les Moonves and why his removal is important to Hip-Hop industry guys who think that the toxic masculinity has a place in their offices.
With the unraveling of Moonves legacy (just like Cosby, Weinsten, and Lauer to name a few), one can become dizzy at the many women emboldened by the #MeToo movement that have stepped up. They indeed are brave. And actually quite heroic, but the most heroic perhaps is reporter Ronan Farrow who wrote an expose on this horrific sexually harassing and abusive practices that span over his lengthy career. On July 27th, The New Yorker published an article that detailed six accounts of sexual harassment reported by women that worked with him. Moonves used his powerful status as a head honcho to intimidate and coerced women into having oral sex, kissing him and letting him get handsy. As if this should be enough, he also was accused of gender discrimination and harassment by various CBS employees. Immediately after the story went live, on July 31st another woman came forward with very similar allegations against Moonves. Despite having a public face of support for women, it seems that homie is a habitual perv that uses his powers to make women feel small and helpless. That at least is what it seems. So what he was a member of Anita Hill’s Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality (a position he has since stepped down) or that he has lent his voice to the movement wagging his finger at his counterparts who have been caught out there with their pants down… he represents the kind of boogie monster that generations of mothers have warned their daughters about.
As if this is enough (and let’s not act like it does not help), Moonves and CBS will donate $20 Million to several organizations that support the “MeToo Movement and equality for women in the workplace.” His own settlement will be something a little less impressive. While last week CNBC reported that he could exit out with an entitled severance package of about $100 Million, folk are now saying that he will bounce from the company taking no compensation, pending the results of an investigation set up by the CBS Board of Directors.
And Hip-Hoppers need to make sure that this does not happen to them. In a culture that seems bipolar at best, it is hard to navigate the mix-matched messages of masculinity that not only rappers talk about on the record, but that their label execs verbally and physically exude cubicle to cubicle, office to office. People have already pointed out leaders such as Africa Bambataa and Russell Simmons. Others whisper in the back of the club about who did what to whom. Watch Moonves carefully, see who he moves and with govern yourself accordingly or brace yourself for what is to come. Either way… there is “a strong wind a blowin'” and just because it ain’t hit us yet… it might just be coming around the corner.