Ronan Farrow Says Leslie Moonves Claims Shed Light on "Culture of Impunity" at CBS

Screengrab/CNN
Ronan Farrow

The reporter slammed the network's "culture of protecting powerful people" during an interview Friday with CNN's Erin Burnett.

Ronan Farrow says his New Yorker investigation on Leslie Moonves, which chronicles alleged sexual misconduct perpetrated by the CBS CEO, is significant for shedding light on what he called the network's "culture of impunity."

During an appearance Friday night on CNN’s OutFront with Erin Burnett, hours after his story was first published, Farrow emphasized that the culpability of both Moonves and the network that protected him were the focus of the story. 

“What’s so significant here is you’re dealing both with an individual who is at the top of his game, and on whom many, many other powerful people depend for their livelihoods, and also a corporation that is at the apex of our culture, that shapes our news, that shapes our fiction that we consume,” said Farrow. “And, as it turns out ... this wasn’t just Les Moonves. This was a culture of protecting powerful people.”

The writer argued that through the varied accounts described in the story, it seems as if Moonves' alleged behavior was “practiced" and CBS' failure to act when notified about these allegations created a "culture of impunity that couldn't protect other women." 

On-the-record accusers in the story include actress Illeana Douglas, writer Janet Jones, producer Christine Peters and writer Dinah Kirgo. 

Douglas alleges Moonves tried to kiss her and grab her during a meeting. "What it feels like to have someone hold you down — you can’t breathe, you can’t move," Douglas told Farrow, recalling an incident that allegedly occurred in the late 1990s, "The physicality of it was horrendous."

Farrow emphasized that Douglas noted a “pattern of retaliation” on the part of the network that left her feeling hopeless. “Her feeling was that this was covered up, that she had few people to turn to ... and that everyone else went on their lives, but she had a career that suffered, and every woman in here tells a story that mirrors that component of it,” Farrow said. 

Though Farrow didn't specify whether he believed Moonves' alleged behavior has ceased, the writer found it important that "CBS and Moonves have a very ample opportunity to engage in this." Farrow's story includes a statement supplied by Moonves responding to the allegations in his piece. 

Farrow also said that the women's accounts in the story were never intended to change Moonves' image, but rather to "resonate" with others who had similar stories.  

"What was important here in the minds of these women was not taking down Les Moonves or the effect of Les Moonves’ career. It was bringing light to these kinds of stories that resonate with women and men in so many industries," he said.