CBS controlling shareholder Shari Redstone now has more power to boot Les Moonves after sexual misconduct allegations against the longtime CEO surfaced last week, media critic Ken Auletta told CNBC on Monday.
“It weakens him and it strengthens Shari Redstone in their battle,” the New Yorker staff writer said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “If she wants to replace him at some point, the odds are she has more leverage to do that now.”
The CBS board will be discussing the Moonves situation on Monday. The stock price was sank 3.7 percent in early trading Monday. It plunged 6.1 percent on Friday.
Those allegations came Friday in a New Yorker article written by Auletta’s colleague Ronan Farrow, whose investigative reporting in October contributed to the downfall of Hollywood powerbroker Harvey Weinstein.
Farrow reported Friday that the CBS chairman and CEO’s alleged misconduct took place more than 20 years ago. In a statement, the 68-year-old Moonves said he regretted making some women uncomfortable but that he abided by the principle that “no means no.”
The media stock plunged more than 6 percent on Friday.
The website Deadline reported that it’s unclear whether Redstone will make an appearance at the Monday’s board meeting. The shareholder meeting is scheduled for Aug. 10.
Moonves and Redstone have been waging a public and hostile war over CBS attempts to stem Redstone’s control over company.
Redstone, who holds a majority of the voting shares in CBS and Viacom, wants CBS to merge with Viacom, with Moonves to lead the combined company and Viacom CEO Bob Bakish as his No. 2.
Moonves doesn’t want Bakish looking over his shoulder.
The two media companies had been under the same umbrella from 2000 to 2006 before they were split into separate publicly traded companies.
The New Yorker article published Friday cited six women who said the longtime media executive harassed them between the 1980s and 2000s.
Despite some of the alleged events taking place decades ago, Auletta, said there is a “fever” in corporate America and public support to immediately address serious allegations.
“People are concerned about male abusive power,” said Auletta, also a best-selling author on trends in the media industry. “If Moonves did what they claimed he did … that’s a serious charge. It’s very hard in this climate, even if it’s 20 years old to say, ‘Let’s have bygones be bygones.'”