CBS’ Dilemma: What About Julie Chen’s Two Shows In Its Post-Moonves Era?

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“I feel for Julie Chen today; she is in a very difficult position, CBS This Morning’s Gayle King said this morning, kicking off Day 2 of Post-Leslie Moonves Life at CBS.

CBS is in a tough spot too, given that Chen hosts two of its programs, and the company just gave her husband the hook, hours after publication of a second New Yorker article in which more women claimed he sexually harassed and/or assaulted them.

Big Brother

Just before Monday’s season debut of The Talk, Chen issued a statement telling viewers, “I am taking a few days off … to be with my family” but making clear that she “will be back soon and will see you Thursday night on Big Brother.

Chen’s absence Monday made it much easier for the other The Talk panelists to discuss Moonves, who was that day’s Big News.

When The New Yorker published its first article on the topic in July, Chen issued a statement saying, “I have known my husband, Leslie Moonves, since the late ’90s, and I have been married to him for almost 14 years. Leslie is a good man and a 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.”

Appearing on The Talk soon thereafter, Chen told viewers, “Some of you may be aware of what has been going on in my life for the past few days. I have issued the one and only statement I will ever make on this topic on Twitter. And I will stand by that statement today, tomorrow, forever,” she added to a big round of applause.

Taking Chen at her word, her presence on Monday’s season starter would have made it extremely uncomfortable for Sharon Osbourne to note she’d been asked and had given support to Moonves when that first Farrow article broke but could not do so now “after seven more women have come out, these stories that are so similar.”

“Obviously the man has a problem,” Osbourne said. “Why is it when men get that power, it goes to their testicles?”

Presumably, somebody’s hoping the dust settles on this story in those “few days off” Chen talked about taking off, enabling her to pick up where she left off on the show. But it’s unclear how The Talk will be able to tackle any new #MeToo developments without maximum awkwardness with Chen at the table.

On the other hand, moving her off the show smacks of punishing a wife for her husband’s alleged sexual affronts.

The next day, The Talk gang felt free, in Chen’s absence, to agree with King that results of CBS’ investigation into the many Moonves allegations must be made public, which CBS has said will not happen.

“I think it would be difficult to work at a company feeling like things aren’t going to be told,” co-host Sara Gilbert said. “You want to feel that it’s going to become public.” She then and praised the women who spoke to The New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow about Chen’s husband as “brave.”

Osbourne, meanwhile, wondered, “How are women ever going to feel comfortable in the workplace if they still think that power and money will be held over their heads?” Keeping the “verdict” sealed isn’t fair to women, she insisted.

Presumably, Chen can steer clear of any talk about Moonves and #MeToo on Thursday’s Double Eviction episode of CBS’ Big Brother – the U.S. version of the international reality-competition series franchise in which strangers shack up in a house and engage in internecine warfare, oblivious to events of the world outside their compound, including the weekend’s ouster of the most powerful man in the U.S. television industry.

In that, it’s the Practically Perfect Program for Chen to softly land back at CBS, post-Moonves.

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