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Shari Redstone Calls Viacom’s Accusation of Manipulation ‘Absurd’

Philippe Dauman believes his removal from company-controlling trust was not actually Sumner Redstone’s idea

Shari Redstone doesn’t appreciate the accusations that she has manipulated her ailing father into marginalizing current Viacom Chairman, President and CEO Philippe Dauman.

“It is absurd for anyone to accuse Shari of manipulating her father or controlling what goes on in his household,” her spokesperson said in a statement Monday morning. “Sumner makes his own decisions regarding whom he wants to see both in his home and elsewhere, and he has his own team of  independent advisors to counsel him on corporate and other matters.”

“As to the idea that Shari, an attorney and respected businesswoman, would ‘unlawfully’ use his name, that is utterly ridiculous,” the media statement concluded.

Shari was directly pushing back against a Sunday Viacom statement, which said the company was “troubled and saddened” by recent decisions, and that her 92-year-old father was being “shamefully manipulated.”

“The facts are clear. Viacom’s 12-hour strategy meetings on May 17 and 18, that Sumner attended by phone, addressed all issues, including Paramount, to the satisfaction of all the independent directors,” the Viacom statement said. “Despite numerous requests, Lead Independent Director Fred Salerno and a fellow board member, who represent all shareholders, have still been unable to meet with Mr. Redstone.”

“The Sumner Redstone we knew would never refuse a meeting about his businesses and he certainly would not want advisors to stand in for him. Mr. Salerno and his fellow Directors remain willing and eager to meet with Sumner at any time,” it concluded.

Shari Redstone is one member of a family trust that controls the future of both CBS and Viacom. Her father, Sumner, unceremoniously removed Dauman and George Abrams from those ranks late Friday. Some — including those at Viacom — clearly believe Sumner is too incapacitated to make such a decision, and that Shari is taking advantage of the situation to remove her rivals.

Sumner Redstone had championed Dauman through most of his career — and Shari clearly never wanted her father’s French-born protege to take the reins of Viacom. The rest of the board seemed fine with that notion of new leadership at the time, handing Dauman the chairman title that previously belonged to Sumner, who is now chairman emeritus.

However, Viacom hasn’t exactly been a success story for the ages under Dauman’s leadership — read about its rough recent 22 months here.