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CBS's O'Donnell on Moonves exit: No excuse for harassment 'that is pervasive in our culture'
"CBS This Morning" addressed the resignation of the network's CEO, Leslie Moonves, with co-host Norah O'Donnell stating while it was "really hard to comment" on alleged sexual harassment claims against him, there is "no excuse" for the alleged behavior "that is pervasive in our culture,"
"This is really hard. This is hard for everybody at CBS News," O'Donnell began on Monday. "I think the most powerful media executive in America has now resigned in the wake of this Me Too movement, and he's my boss. That makes it really hard to comment on it."
"Les has always treated me fairly and with respect," she continued. "Still, for me, it's been another sleepless night thinking about this - the pain that women feel, the courage that it takes for women to come forward and talk about this."
"There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It is systematic, and it is pervasive in our culture," O'Donnell added. "And this I know is true to the core of my being: Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility."
The Moonves exit comes after Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ronan Farrow's latest report in The New Yorker. Farrow details allegations from six additional women against the 68-year-old, who is considered one of the most powerful men in media, including sexual assault. One woman also stated she was coerced into performing oral sex.
"I'm really proud to work here at CBS News," O'Donnell said. "This has hurt morale, but there are some really, really good people that come to work every single day. As a journalist, I am confident that the truth is going to come out because this is being investigated. This has to end."
Co-host John Dickerson, who joined the program in January after former co-host Charlie Rose was ousted from the network amid sexual harassment allegations, said he was "really proud" of O'Donnell's comments and "couldn't agree more" with her sentiment.
In a statement released Sunday night, Moonves said the claims against him are "untrue allegations from decades ago," adding they are "not consistent with who I am."
Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will serve as interim CEO while the network's board of directors selects a permanent successor.
CBS said on Sunday that it will donate $20 million of Moonves's potential severance pay to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement.