UPDATED with more video: CBS’s Late Show tackled explosive allegations against CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves in tonight’s monologue. [Watch clips above and below.]
“How was everybody’s weekend?” Colbert began, saying he spent it down in South Carolina, “really relaxing, no internet – they don’t’ have it there yet.”
“I heard there was article about CBS chairman and man I hope isn’t watching tonight’s monologue, Les Moonves.”
“Where was the article?” he wondered.
In The New Yorker, says a voice in a clip.
“Oh it’s a quality publication,” Colbert said, relieved. “Was it one of those cartoons? Talk of the Town?…Who wrote it?” Colbert asked.
Clip of news coverage: “The New Yorker article, by Ronan Farrow –“
Colbert spits his coffee.
“That’s not good,” Colbert frets, switching to scotch. “Ronan Farrow isn’t exactly known for his puff pieces about glamping.”
“Okay, well I guess we’re talking about this, so, Jim?” Colbert says to his roll-the-tape guy.
Tape begins: “Six women who had professional dealings with Les Moonves [allege] that, between the 1980s and late aughts, Moonves sexually harassed them. Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine.”
“Well, you know the old saying: How do you get in a Ronan Farrow article? Practice, practice, practice!” Colbert said in a stab at a light tone.
“The CBS board met today and announced they are in the process of hiring outside investigators. I don’t know why they are outsourcing this,” Colbert continued. “They could just use the cast of the new CBS procedural CSI: CEO.”
After a commercial break, Colbert returned to the topic of Moonves, sitting behind his desk:
“Before the break I was over there, making a few jokes about my boss being in trouble. Are we still broadcasting?” he said.
“We’re coming up on one year of general awareness of the #MeToo movement. And I think that milestone is worth celebrating…Women over the past year have felt empowered to tell their stories in ways they haven’t before, which is an objectively good thing.”
“That said, the revelation 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 has finally happening.
“This weekend, some people asked me, probably because I work here, what is going to happen,” Colbert continued. “I don’t know. I don’t know who does know. In a situation like this, I’d normally call Les. 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”.
“This roar is just a natural backlash to all that silence,” Colbert said of the #MeToo movement.
“So I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I do believe in accountability, and not just for politicians you disagree with.”
“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. He gave us the time and resources to succeed, and he has stood by us when people were mad at me. And I like working for him. But accountability is meaningless unless it’s for everybody, whether it’s the leader of the network, or the leader of the free world.”
Colbert had to address the subject on tonight’s show, having had Farrow as his first guest on a Friday night in November of 2017, to talk about his New Yorker articles, in which women made various sexual assault and harassment allegations about Harvey Weinstein.
“Now it has become a national conversation about sexual abuse, and the abuse of power in sexual context of powerful men against women and other men,” Colbert said, continuing the conversation with Farrow back then. “Did you think ahead of time, when you were working on this, that it would extend beyond the Weinstein story?”