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Moonves fighting CBS' decision to withhold $120 million severance

Photo: Andrew Toth/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Former CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves has told CBS' board that he intends to dispute its ruling to strip him of his $120 million severance after he was fired with cause, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The network pulled the payment after an internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

Why it matters: Sources at CBS and within the industry say that Moonves' ego ultimately prevented a more graceful exit at CBS. His reluctance to step down after initial reports about his behavior, his attempts to undermine investigations, and his current fight to keep his money all highlight the extent to which he is willing to fight these allegations at the expense of his reputation.

Be smart: At the time of his firing, Moonves' lawyers said that he "vehemently denies" any reports of non-consensual sexual relations — and that he was cooperating with investigators. That, combined with the fact that CBS has been paying Moonves' legal fees since he was fired in September, make the legal action less surprising but aggressive nonetheless.

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