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CBS to Fold News Investigation Into Larger Corporate Probe

An investigation into allegations of harassment at CBS News that was slated to come to an end later this month will be consolidated into a larger probe that the board of CBS Corp. has ordered into the culture of the company amid similar accusations recently leveled against its top executive.

CBS said Tuesday that findings in a CBS News investigation being coordinated since March by law firm Proskauer Rose will be wrapped into the broader corporate inquiry. CBS Corp. last week hired two other law firms, Covington & Burling and Devevoise & Pimpton, to examine allegations made by six women in a New Yorker article against CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves. Moonves, who has been CEO of CBS since 2006, acknowledged making advances in certain instances and said “I regret them immensely.” He denied assaulting any of the women or using his role at the company to retaliate against them.

The CBS News investigation was spurred by allegations that executives were aware of reports about unwanted behavior by former “CBS This Morning” co-host Charlie Rose. The New Yorker article reported on multiple allegations about behavior by Jeff Fager, the executive producer of “60 Minutes” and a former chairman of CBS News. Fager has denied the allegations, and this week extended a vacation rather than returning to the newsmagazine’s offices. “Having heard the investigation will be wrapping up soon, Jeff has decided to stay on vacation,” the CBS Corp. news division said in a statement on Monday.

It remained unclear Tuesday whether the consolidation of the various probes would affect when and if Fager might return to his duties at CBS News.  A CBS News spokesperson declined to comment. A CBS Corp.  spokesperson could not be reached immediately to provide details of how long the legal teams would take to complete their tasks.

CBS told employees Monday that the law firms investigating would report directly to the board, not corporate management. The board last week named Bruce S. Gordon the head of a three-person special committee put in place to supervise the law firms’ efforts. Gordon is a former telecommunications executive and former CEO of the NAACP. He is joined by Linda Greigo, a management consultant and Robert Kleiger, an attorney who has represented CBS’ controlling shareholders, Sumner and Shari Redstone, in legal matters.

“You are undoubtedly aware of the troubling allegations that have been made concerning sexual harassment and an inappropriate culture for women within CBS, including allegations directed at Leslie Moonves and the CBS News division,” the board said in an email to CBS employees Monday. The memo also indicated employees would be able to contribute information, even anonymously.

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