Meredith Vieira has responded to allegations of sexual misconduct against CBS CEO Les Moonves. Following a TCA panel discussion for her new PBS show The Great American Read, Vieira told Deadline she hasn’t read the New Yorker article detailing the allegations, and didn’t work directly with Moonves so can’t speak to his behavior, but she tends to believe the women in cases such as this.
“I don’t know exactly what’s in the article,” she said. “I know roughly it’s about Les. But in terms of Les, I didn’t have any real relationship with Les Moonves, and I never personally heard anything, but that means nothing. Somebody can be one way with you and very different with another person.”
During the panel she also said, “People know my story from CBS. I think there was sexism for sure. I never was harassed per se, but I think it was difficult at the time on that show to navigate your way as a woman, but I’ve never experienced harassment as a woman anywhere that I’ve been. Maybe they’re scared of me.”
Vieira was also asked about Matt Lauer returning to television after the panel. She said, “I think it would probably be very difficult for him. Time tends to heal situations, and people evolve and they change and I don’t want to be an unforgiving person by any means, but I think that would be a tough road for sure.”
Vieira will return to screens in September as host of PBS’ The Great American Read – a show which hunts for a winning, most-loved book out of the nation’s top 100.
“They’re all so great,” Vieira said. “What I love about the list is it came from an emotional place.” The top 100 was collated by polling “everyday people” It was just everyday people being polled around the country. I like that because I think it’s very reflective of who we are as Americans right now and that’s why it’s so diverse.”
Nutopia EP Jane Root also participated in the panel discussion. “There are 35,000 people in The Great American Read book club,” she said, “and if you just join and look at the comments and look at how people’s lives are changing…it’s like a huge community.”
“It’s cool to read books,” Vieira said, “and people need to remember how it is to fall in love with a wonderful piece of fiction…to share their passions with a group of people.”
As for her favorite books, Vieira said, “I like a dead body, I like murder, I like war. I didn’t know that about myself. I thought I was lighter than that. It’s fun to find that out about yourself.” Later she elaborated that she’d like To Kill a Mockingbird to win. “That book opened up a lot of windows for me, and I hope shaped who I am and my moral code. But I still like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None because of all the dead bodies.”