At CBS News, she asked for a role that would give her âsome small measure of predictabilityâ over her schedule so she could work while parenting a young son. From his corner office atop CBS, he was demanding that a different female employee be âon callâ to perform oral sex.
She left her job. He made $69.3 million.
Itâs a tale of two professional tracks at CBS: OfÂ Julianna Goldman, a working mother trying â and ultimately failing â to adjust her workplace responsibilities so she could continue to do her job as her home life evolved, and of Les Moonves, the CEO and chairman whose reportedly rampant sexual violence was the centerpiece of a noxious, misogynistic network over which he reigned for decades.
On Wednesday,Â the New York Times published a reportÂ on Moonvesâ obstruction of an investigation into his sexual misconduct at CBS. That obstruction may cut the strings on the golden parachute on which Moonves surely thought heâd gently float into an early retirement â which is a little like getting Al Capone for tax evasion, considering the gravity of Moonvesâ alleged violence.
The Times report also included many new sickening details about Moonvesâ âtransactionalâ sexual relations with his female underlings:
âThe outside lawyers were told by multiple people that CBS had an employee âwho was âon callâ to perform oral sexâ on Mr. Moonves. According to the draft report: âA number of employees were aware of this and believed that the woman was protected from discipline or termination as a result of it.â[âŠ]
The report found that, in addition to consensual relationships and affairs, âMoonves received oral sex from at least 4 CBS employees under circumstances that sound transactional and improper to the extent that there was no hint of any relationship, romance, or reciprocity.â
The report said that the lawyers werenât able to speak with any of those women, but that âsuch a pattern arguably constitutes willful misfeasance and violation of the companyâs sexual harassment policy.â
The Times piece comes a few months afterÂ Ronan Farrow first reportedÂ that Moonves had been accused by six women of sexual harassment and intimidation, while âdozens moreâ detailed abuse throughout the company Moonves ran. Further reporting revealed Moonvesâ methodical destruction of female-driven shows. Thorough investigations into credible allegations brought to light the abuses of longtime TV host Charlie Rose,Â NCISÂ showrunner Brad Kern, senior vice president of talent for CBS Television Studios Vincent âVinnieâ Favale. A phalanx of sexist, abusive men flourished while women suffered, under Moonvesâ eye.
Tuesday, Julianna Goldman wrote about her experience with CBS News forÂ The Atlantic. She was a general-assignment correspondent with 15 years of experience who was essentially given a no-choice choice between a job that was obviously incompatible with parenting (last-minute travel for breaking news) and no job at all. She asked for a position with more predictability; she was told the offer on the table was âfinal.â She left and later realized she âwas not aloneâ:
According toÂ a report by the Womenâs Media Center, television viewers are less likely to see women reporting the news today than just a few years ago. At the Big Three networksâABC, CBS, and NBCâcombined, men were responsible for reporting 75 percent of the evening news broadcasts over three months in 2016, while women were responsible for reporting only 25 percentâa drop from 32 percentÂ two years earlier.
It wasÂ âanti-momâ bias, in all its insidious manifestations: Assumptions made about a womanâs dedication and competence (meanwhile, men earn a âfatherhood premiumâ for every child they have); the fear of getting edged out while taking maternity leave and daring to be off-camera for all of three months; the exacting expectations for a womanâs appearance on television that make no allowances for a pregnant or postpartum body.
As Goldman argues, all citizens suffer when women and mothers are sidelined from the work they do so well. It is impossible to report the news fully, accurately, and with empathy, without without diversity of experience and insight on the part of those who report it. And of course the workplace discrimination she documents against pregnant women and mothers is appalling,Â all the more so forbeing so commonplace.
But there is something especially gross about seeing these two experiences â Goldmanâs and Moonvesâ â side by side.
What does it say about CBS, as an institution, that higher-ups decided it was simply unfathomable to meet Goldmanâs minimal requests but that it was absolutely paramount to ensure Moonves every sexual whim be met on demand? What does it say about the board, that at least one of its members knew about an assault allegation against Moonves from 1999 and, rather than do anything meaningful with that information whatsoever, justâŠ told no one, and did nothing, and stood up for Moonves even as more and more credible allegations came out?
Dr. Anne Peters says Moonves assaulted her in 1999. As she told CBS lawyers, she warned Arnold Kopelson, an Oscar-winning producer who was about to join the board, about Moonves. As Peters remembers it, Kopelsonâs response was âthat the incident happened a long time ago and was trivial, and said, in effect, âwe all did that.’â
Kopelson joined the board in 2007 and, at a board meeting following the publication of Farrowâs investigation, kept on defending Moonves. âI donât care if 30 more women come forward and allege this kind of stuff,â he said. âLes is our leader and it wouldnât change my opinion of him.â (Kopelson died in October.)
How telling, that at CBS, itâs easier to make an office work for Moonves â and Rose, and Kern, and on, and on â than to make it work for a mother. That someone like Kopelson could say, of Moonvesâ alleged criminal misconduct, âwe all did that,â but that no one can look at working parents and say, âwe all do that.â
This article was published at ThinkProgress on December 5, 2018. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author:Â Jessica M. Goldstein is the Culture Editor for ThinkProgress.