The hosts of The Talk did not shy away from talking about CBS CEO Leslie Moonves' exit from the company amid multiple accusations of sexual assault and harassment. Co-host Julie Chen, Moonves' wife, was notably absent from the live show on Monday, saying in a statement that she was "taking a few days off" to be with family. But her colleagues addressed the issue head-on.
Sharon Osbourne spearheaded the discussion and seemed uncomfortable as she opened the episode, which was also the premiere of the show's ninth season. She called it a "bittersweet" day to kick off the season.
"We're about to talk about something that affects everybody's life here at CBS," she started. "I've never been nervous in my life, but I'm kind of very nervous right now. As you all know, Julie's husband is in the news and she's taking off time to be with her family."
Osbourne introduced a montage of clips about Moonves' departure from various morning shows first. Afterward, she talked about her relationship with both Chen and Moonves, who she said she does not know well. Osbourne paused and glanced at her cue cards as she spoke.
"Whatever times I've had of hardship over the last eight years, Julie has always been there for me," said Osbourne. "She's been a friend. She's been somebody I admire and respect greatly and it's very embarrassing and upsetting to have to talk about her husband, but we do. We feel it's right and I personally know Les Moonves in a superficial way. It was, 'Hello, how are you?' Nothing more. I know nothing about the man other than he's Julie's husband and he was the head of the biggest network in the world and the most powerful man in TV."
Osbourne said that she was asked "a couple of months ago" to make a statement in support of Moonves when the first wave of accusations came to light. She said she did so in a way that she thought was "as diplomatic as I could be."
But the host continued, "Now after seven more women have come out, the stories are so similar, the pattern is so similar, that for me, it's not being convicted of any crime, but obviously the man has a problem and I'd like to say, Mr. Moonves should step down, and Mr. Moonves is an extremely wealthy man and good luck to him ... He has worked hard. He made this network number one."
Osbourne said, "Everybody here at CBS is nervous about their jobs," and added that she is particularly concerned about the crew. "I care about, as Mr. Moonves would say, 'The little people,'" she said.
As she wrapped up, she implored of her co-hosts, "Anybody else got anything to say? Throw me a bone!"
Co-host Sara Gilbert jumped in and said, "Julie is our friend. This is our ninth season and we've been together since the beginning. I love her. I support her always. However, this is an important time in our culture, and just because this hits close to home, it doesn't change the story. All women's stories matter and these women's stories matter. This is very serious and the appropriate actions need to take place and so I am happy women are heard, because for a long time they haven't been."
Co-host Eve said, "I support Julie and I'm praying for her and praying for her family ... I hope and pray we get to a place where we don't have to talk about this anymore, where women are equal, where this won't have to happen anymore."
Osbourne added that Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb's story in particular broke her heart. Golden-Gottlieb, now a retired television executive, told The New Yorker that one afternoon in 1986, Moonves drove her to a secluded area and forcibly held her head to engage in oral sex.
Osbourne said, "It really broke my heart, and I don't care whether it was yesterday, 20 or 30 years ago, but somebody that breaks somebody's life like that has to be accountable ... I have to agree that Phyllis said in her story, 'Who would believe me? I'm a nothing. This man is everything and powerful.'"
Co-host Sheryl Underwood, fighting back tears, said that she saw Moonves' exit as a blessing in disguise as it allowed the truth to emerge.
"I think this is a blessing from God to be unburdened from secrets and unchained from lies and now is the time for everyone to look inside themselves and become better people and treat people the way they should be treated," she said. "And women should not feel they have to carry secrets and burdens. ... Today we say enough is enough, and today we say we believe you, we hear you, go on with your life."
CBS announced Moonves' departure hours after the report by Ronan Farrow was published Sunday by The New Yorker, in which six women described in detail several disturbing instances of alleged sexual misconduct. The claims came six weeks after Farrow first published allegations against Moonves by six other women.
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