Leslie Moonves Says Comment on Trump Candidacy Being "Damn Good for CBS" Was a Joke

Les Moonves 2016 interview grab - H
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The CBS chief said the comment was "a joke" at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on Wednesday morning. "Obviously, Trump is saying something very different today."

CBS CEO Les Moonves says his comment about Donald Trump was taken out of context when he said the GOP nominee's candidacy "may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS."

Moonves spoke at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on Wednesday morning, where according to Politico, he took the time to clear the air.

"It was a joke! It was a joke!" said Moonves. "Then Marco Rubio put me on a flyer and said this is why the media is supporting Donald Trump. Obviously, Trump is saying something very different today."

Moonves added, "It was early in the primaries, and I was at a business conference. The early days of Trump, where no one imagined him being where he is today," he said. "By [the 'good for CBS' comment], I meant there was going to be a lot of money in the marketplace. Ironically, because of Donald Trump not spending a lot of money [on campaign ads], more money has been spent on gubernatorial and local races."

The CBS chief also gave a brief comment on a possible CBS and Viacom merger and shared his thoughts on how NBC handled the Billy Bush/Donald Trump leaked tape controversy.

"I think NBC did probably the right thing," said Moonves. "It’s a question all news organizations are facing ourselves. I probably would have done what they did.”

Moonves' comments come just hours before Trump and Hillary Clinton face off in the final presidential debate tonight in Las Vegas. Rudy Giuliani and Mark Cuban have already gone head to head during a pre-debate appearance on CNN. The debate airs tonight at 6 p.m. PT.