During his opening monologue, the TV host, 54, said he heard over the weekend that The New Yorker published a report about Moonves. He jokingly questioned the validity of the piece, until he realized that Ronan Farrow, who previously wrote exposés on Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual abuse, penned it.
“That’s not good,” he said after spitting out his drink. “Ronan isn’t exactly known for his puff pieces about glamping.”
Colbert more seriously addressed the scandal from behind his desk after his show’s first commercial break. “We’re coming up on one year of general awareness of the #MeToo movement,” he began. “I think that milestone is worth celebrating. … The revelations and accusations of the past year — just in the entertainment industry alone — have been shocking to me. To many of the women I know, it has brought a welcome sense of relief that something is finally happening.”
The comedian said he is unsure of what is going to happen next at the network in the wake of the claims against Moonves, 68.
“In a situation like this, I’d normally call Les,” he said. “But over the past year, there has been a lot of discussion about whether the disappearing of the accused from public life is the right thing to do. And I get that there should be levels of response, but I understand why that disappearing happens. … I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do believe in accountability — and not just for politicians you disagree with.”
Speaking about his personal relationship with the media executive, Colbert concluded, “Everybody believes in accountability until it’s their guy. And make no mistake, Les Moonves is my guy. He hired me to sit in this chair. He stood behind this show while we were struggling to find our voice. … And I like working for him, but accountability is meaningless unless it’s for everybody, whether it’s the leader of a network or the leader of the free world.”
Moonves admitted in a statement to The New Yorker on Friday, July 27, that he “may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances” over the years, but “those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely.” However, he insisted that he “never misused my power to harm or hinder anyone’s career.”
His wife, The Talk and Big Brother host Julie Chen, came to his defense with a statement of her own. “I have known my husband, Leslie Moonves, since the mid-90s, and I have been married to him for almost 14 years,” she tweeted on Friday afternoon. “Leslie is a good man and loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader. He has always been a kind, decent and moral human being. I fully support my husband and stand behind him and his statement.”
CBS’ board of directors announced earlier on Monday that its CEO will keep his role for the time being as an outside counsel conducts an independent investigation.