CBS Names 2 Law Firms to Investigate Les Moonves, Company Culture

Both investigations will be led by female lawyers, Nancy Kestenbaum and Mary Jo White

The CBS board of directors voted unanimously on Wednesday to retain two law firms — Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton — to investigate accusations of misconduct against CEO Les Moonves, as well as cultural issues at CBS News and “all levels of CBS.”

Significantly, the investigations will each be headed up by women, with Nancy Kestenbaum leading for Covington & Burling, and Mary Jo White for Debevoise & Plimpton.

CBS has also formed a special committee of board members that will assist the investigation. The committee will include CBS Corporate director Bruce S. Gordon, business management executive Linda Griego and attorney Robert N. Klieger. Gordon has also been named lead independent director of the Board of Directors.

Moonves will have no role in the investigation and, CBS said in a statement Wednesday night, will be “entirely recused” from it.

CBS “takes these allegations seriously and is committed to acting in the best interest of the Company and all of its shareholders,” the statement continued, “and is confident that the employees of CBS will continue to perform at a high level as this process unfolds.”

“Neither the Board nor the Company expects to comment further on this matter at this time,” the statement concluded.

Earlier Wednesday, Moonves stepped down from the Anita Hill-chaired special commission to combat sexual misconduct. The commission was designed to bring together the industry’s top decision makers to address causes of the problems of parity and power across the entertainment industry.

Moonves was also suspended Wednesday from the Board of the USC School of Cinematic Arts.