Stephen Colbert took a moment on Late Show to thank CNN for its report earlier in the day that the CBS exec who had been tasked with developing comedic talent for his show had been placed on administrative leave.
Vinnie Favale was put on leave as the media company investigates allegations he used sexually explicit and homophobic language in the workplace and retaliated against those who complained.
CNN had been working on the report for weeks and CNN reports Favale was put in administrative leave following that investigation.
“An article came out in CNN today about an executive at CBS who used to be a liaison to this show. He basically came with the building when I got this show, and he used to be around here a lot,” Colbert told viewers a few hours after CNN’s report.
Favale had, in addition to being an exec at CBS, appeared on Late Show when David Letterman hosted. CBS News’ Jeff Glor, now anchor of CBS Evening News, interviewed Favale at length about Letterman, on CBS News’ CBSN, as Letterman got ready to step down as program host.
Back then, Favale’s title was VP Late Night Programming, CBSN reported. Favale’s more recent title, Colbert noted Wednesday night, was VP late night East Coast, pointing out there was “only one show” in late night on CBS, coming from the East Coast, “and it was us.”
“About six months into this show, some of the employees said they were uncomfortable with some of the things he said,” Colbert continued. “We took their complaints to HR. They investigated. Twice. But I don’t really know what if anything happened,” said Colbert, who, in addition to being the host of the show, is among its executive producers.
“It seemed like someone was protecting this guy,” Colbert said, adding “I don’t know who it was.”
Among the accusations of nine unnamed current and former CBS employees cited in the report, Favale allegedly talked about having an erection while watching Jennifer Hudson rehearse for Late Show, called some guests and employees “homos,” and suggested MSNBC primetime star Rachel Maddow should not be booked on the show because she “looks like a man.”
“We eventually convinced the network to make a change,” Colbert described on Wednesday night’s program.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert had declined to give an on-the-record comment for CNN’s report.
A few hours later, Colbert said on air, “So I’m grateful to CNN for writing this article because the press is not the enemy of the people. This is why you want a free press. This is why you want investigative journalism. It’s to make sure that government and companies and people are accountable for their actions.”
CBS, meanwhile, did give an on-the-record comment for CNN’s report:
“The comments reported in this story are offensive and not consistent with the standards we expect from our executives or the culture we want at CBS. The network investigated a complaint for inappropriate language that was received in January 2016, and corrective action was taken. However, since concerned voices are speaking up nearly three years later, additional review is warranted.”
So did Favale: “Allegations that I have ever retaliated against anyone in any fashion are 100% false. I have spent my entire career working at comedy shows, where there has always been a wide latitude to make transgressive jokes while preparing the program. While we make a lot of jokes, these jokes attributed to me, whether said in rehearsals or production meetings, are being taken out of context and were not said in the way being presented here.”