The Financial Times’ corporate news service Agenda has pulled quotes from an interview that it said its reporters had with former CBS CEO Les Moonves — an interview the disgraced mogul vehemently denied he ever had with the outlet.
In a lengthy editor’s note added Thursday to an updated version of the Dec. 18 story, Agenda said it stood by its reporters, Stephanie Forshee and Jennifer Williams-Alvarez, but had decided to yank all the quotes from the disputed interview anyway.
Editor’s note: The original version of this article published on Dec. 18 included quotes attributed to Les Moonves and a headline related to those quotes. On Jan. 8, a spokesperson for Mr. Moonves issued a statement denying that Mr. Moonves spoke with reporters from Agenda in December 2018 or at any other time. Our reporters had each dialed a number obtained from a subscription public records database that purported to be Mr. Moonves’s number and spoken with an individual who identified himself as Mr. Moonves. The individual had knowledge of the CBS board’s decision and the history behind it. We stand by our reporters’ portrayal of those conversations but, in light of the statement from Mr. Moonves, we have removed the quotes from the article.
Reps for Financial Times, Agenda and Moonves did not respond to requests for comment.
The note is the third attempt by the Financial Times subsidiary to address the imbroglio over the story, in which an individual identified as Moonves said the battle over his $120 million severance package was “far from over” despite his firing for cause by the CBS board on Dec. 17 after multiple sexual harassment accusations.
Moonves’ spokesperson had asked for a retraction of the story, saying that the former media mogul “did not speak with reporters from Agenda in December 2018 or at any other time. Any suggestion that he did is without any factual basis whatsoever.”
As TheWrap reported on Wednesday, Agenda had updated the story to explain “that the reporters spoke to a person who identified himself as Mr. Moonves, and that Mr. Moonves’s spokesperson has said that was not him.” (A still earlier editor’s note, first reported in Vanity Fair, promised that Agenda was “reviewing” the matter.)
Since his departure from CBS, the company been led by interim CEO Joe Ianniello.