CBS Films president Terry Press has posted a comment on her personal Facebook page about her longtime boss, Les Moonves. It is less unanimously supportive than the statements issued Friday by Moonves’ wife Julie Chen and female CBS executives Ad Sales chief Jo Ann Ross and head of daytime Angelica McDaniel. Press was outspoken last October in saying she would quit the Academy unless Harvey Weinstein was banished, so it became a natural to wonder how she would respond at charges leveled at her boss by six women who claimed he made aggressive sexual overtures and froze them out when they were rebuffed. Moonves is by far the most powerful media executive facing a precipitous fall due to charges made in print by women charging objectionable behavior from decades ago. This is a painful moment for female executives reeling from these charges landing close to home, as they try to support other women who’ve mustered the courage to take on a figure as powerful as Moonves, while waiting for the results of the CBS investigation.
Here is her statement:
As a fan of The New Yorker it is difficult to reconcile the portrait put forth in that piece with the man who I know today as honorable, compassionate, and a big booster of women inside CBS. As is often the case, this kind of story generates as many questions as answers. I do not believe that it is my place to question the accounts put forth by the women but I do find myself asking that if we are examining the industry as it existed decades before through the lens of 2018 should we also discuss a path to learning, reconciliation, and forgiveness?
To reach a point where we can accept some space between zero accountability and complete destruction, we must first grapple with the issue of equivalency. If we paint episodes of vulgar (and deeply regrettable) behavior from 20 years ago with the same brush as serial criminal behavior, we will never move forward and more importantly, we eschew the complicated nuances of context for the easier path of absolutes. Outrage is a valuable commodity…but its usefulness can be diminished by overuse. And understanding and learning from the past is the only way towards a future that reflects real change.