Sexual misconduct allegations against CBS Corp.'s chairman and chief executive officer complicate an already messy situation for the broadcaster: Its board will have to investigate Moonves at the same time it's working with him in a court fight for control of the most-watched US TV network.
Hours later, The New Yorker had still not published the article or responded to requests for comment.
The New Yorker article was written by Ronan Farrow, a former NBC News correspondent, who has written a series of articles on high-profile individuals accused of sexual misconduct.
In TV circles, there have been rumors of an impending Farrow story about Moonves for the past six months.
Actress and writer Illeana Douglas was quoted in the article as saying, "What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was sacked for not participating". Four of them described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings.
Moonves acknowledges to the New Yorker that were times decades ago when he may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances.
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"Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely", Moonves said.
But he said he respected the principle "that "no" means 'no, '" and had never misused his position to harm anyone's career.
CBS said in a statement that it would investigate the claim.
Actress and writer Illeana Douglas, shown here in April 2018, went on the record with the New Yorker about being allegedly sexually harassment and blacklisted by CBS chief Leslie Moonves.
Moonves, one of the most powerful executives in media, has led CBS for two decades, including the 12 years since it split from Viacom. Television, where his team developed hit shows such as "Friends" and "ER". At CBS, he commissioned hit shows such as "CSI" and "The Big Bang Theory".
Moonves has been very well compensated for his company's success. Only Ross remains with the company. He made $68.4 million previous year, behind only chip maker Broadcom's CEO. He earned $69.3 million in 2017, according to Variety.
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Moonves, 68, is now married to "Big Brother" and "The Talk" host Julie Chen, whom he Wednesday in 2004. Chen tweeted on Friday that she stands by Moonves and that he is a "good man and a loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader".
Shares in CBS tumbled when the reports of the misconduct allegations began to circulate around noon Friday, as investors anxious that Moonves might be forced to step down.
The allegations come as CBS is in the middle of a legal battle with its controlling shareholder, National Amusements, which has been pushing for a merger with Viacom, also controlled by National Amusements.
In a statement to The New Yorker that was also obtained by CNN, Moonves said he has "promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees" throughout his tenure at CBS.
Independent members of CBS's board have pledged an investigation into the CEO's behaviour. "Along with that team, we will continue to focus on creating value for our shareowners". She says Moonves enticed her to work at CBS and cast her in the pilot of a show called "Queens".
"Before the story was published, a spokeswoman for National Amusements Inc said, "(Shari) Redstone hopes that the investigation of these allegations is thorough, open and transparent".
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Shares in Alphabet were unchanged while those in Apple and Netflix slipped just a third of a percent. As for Facebook , it actually made money in the quarter, just not enough to appease Wall Street.