Stephen Colbert took time away from joking about President Trump and Michael Cohen on Monday night to address the elephant in the room at CBS: the sexual misconduct accusations aimed at Les Moonves.
Colbert started his opening monologue by saying he’d had a relaxing weekend down in South Carolina where they don’t have internet yet. “But I heard there was an article about CBS chairman and a man I hope isn’t watching tonight’s monologue, Les Moonves,” he said cautiously.
“Where was the article?” he asked. “In the New Yorker,” said a voiceover. “Oh, it’s a quality publication,” Colbert replied, “Was it one of those cartoons? Was it Talk of the Town?”
Of course, the CBS late-night host was talking about the story published Friday by Ronan Farrow in which CBS chief Moonves was accused of sexual misconduct by six women. Farrow detailed accusations from four women who said Moonves forcibly touched or kissed them during business meetings, and two women who said he physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers. All six women, including actress and writer Illeana Douglas and writer Janet Jones, said they feared retaliation if they spoke out.
In his irony-tinged monologue, Colbert asked who wrote the article, and when he heard it was Farrow, he choked on his drink and sputtered: “That’s not good!
“Ronan isn’t exactly known for his puff pieces about glamping,” he said.
Colbert conceded that there was no way around talking about the scandal surrounding the network boss, so he dived right into the headlines.
After a very bad “CSI:CEO” joke, Colbert said he’d have more to say later at his desk, “assuming we make it past the commercial break.”
The “Late Show” did return after the commercial break, when Colbert took a more serious tone while addressing the investigation into the allegations against Moonves.
“Its strange to have to say this but powerful men taking advantage of relatively powerless employees is wrong,” he said. “We know its wrong now and we knew it was wrong then. How do we know? Because the men tried to keep the story from coming out then.”
Colbert also acknowledged that he had Moonves to thank for his current hosting gig at CBS. “I believe in accountability. Everybody believes in accountability until it’s their guy, and make no mistake: Les Moonves is my guy,” he told the audience, adding he “stood by us when people were mad at me and I like him.”
However, “Accountability is meaningless, unless it’s for everybody, whether its the leader of a network or the leader of the free world,” Colbert stressed.
Earlier on Monday, it was announced that Moonves would stay on as chairman of CBS while the accusations are being investigated by outside council.
“CBS Corporation announced today that its Board of Directors is in the process of selecting outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation. No other action was taken on this matter at today’s board meeting,” said the company in a statement.
Watch video of Colbert’s monologue above.
“The Late Show” airs on CBS at 11:35 p.m.