Aug 2, 2018

CBS makes it clear it backs Moonves, dodges saga on earnings call

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

CBS CEO and Chairman Les Moonves, who is accused of six incidents of sexual harassment, led CBS' second quarter earnings call Thursday, touting the success and growth of the broadcaster's streaming properties.

Why it matters: In letting Moonves lead the call and take questions from investors, CBS sent Wall Street a clear message: He's not going anywhere, for now.

"CBS’ strong second quarter puts us firmly on track to deliver the record full-year results we have forecast,” Moonves said in a statement ahead of the presentation.

The company warned at the top of the call that the discussion and questions from investors would be "limited to the quarterly results of the company."

  • Executives gave long-winded introductions, running the clock for nearly a half hour before opening up the call to investors.

Investors played along, asking only questions about business, revenue, programming, products and market competition. No one brought up the sexual harassment allegations against Moonves at all.

  • There were also no questions about CBS' ongoing legal fight for independence with its parent company, National Amusements Inc., and its Vice Chairwoman Shari Redstone.

Between the lines: In ignoring the elephant in the room, CBS management, Les Moonves, and investors sent a clear signal to the world that business will carry on as usual until there's more proof that Moonves crossed a line that CBS won't tolerate.

What's next: The Hollywood Reporter's Tatiana Siegel reports that Ronan Farrow, who originally broke the news in a New Yorker piece last week, has another Les Moonves story coming "in a week or two."

Go deeper: Axios Business Editor Dan Primack and I react to the stunning earnings call on Dan's Pro Rata podcast. Listen here.

Go deeper

Acting Navy head apologizes for calling fired captain "stupid"

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly testifies on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly apologized Monday for calling Capt. Brett Crozier, the ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, "too naive or too stupid" over his letter pleading for help following a coronavirus outbreak onboard.

The big picture: His apology came after President Trump told a news briefing earlier Monday he would "get involved" following a leak of Modly's remarks to the ship's crew on Crozier, who has since been diagnosed with coronavirus, which were obtained by CNN.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,346,299 — Total deaths: 74,679 — Total recoveries: 276,636Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 367,507— Total deaths: 10,908 — Total recoveries: 19,598Map.
  3. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  4. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  5. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  6. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Former Vatican treasurer George Pell's sexual abuse convictions overturned

Cardinal George Pell at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia, in 2019. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, has won his appeal and had his child sexual abuse convictions overturned by Australia's High Court.

Why it matters: The cardinal became last year the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to go to trial and be convicted for sex abuse. But the High Court's ruling means he can be immediately released from prison, where he was serving a six-year sentence.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - World