CBS Is Finally Over the Moonves

Today’s Agenda

CBS Is Finally Over the Moonves

Howling at the Moonves

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves went out the same way Mike Campbell in “The Sun Also Rises” said he went bankrupt: gradually and then suddenly.

A second raft of sexual-misconduct allegations over the weekend led to Moonves’s sudden ouster (he denies the charges). It wrapped up several plotlines in this CBS drama, ending weeks of uncertainty that followed the first set of allegations and a much longer stretch of tension between Moonves and controlling shareholder Shari Redstone. She wanted CBS to merge with Viacom Inc., which she also controls. Moonves did not want that. His supporters accused Redstone of being behind the assault and harassment charges that felled him. 

But Redstone didn’t exactly get her way with Moonves’s departure, notes Tara Lachapelle, who has been recapping the saga all along: A weekend deal precludes CBS and Viacom from pursuing a merger for two years. The network is still M&A-bait, but Tara is hard-pressed to figure out who else would want to buy it. 

CBS will get a needed board overhaul, and it may be honing its crisis-management skills: Moonves will leave without a big severance package right away (pending an internal investigation). As Matt Levine notes, “You do not see that every day.” 

And the network is simply better off without Moonves, who – even before the allegations – lacked the vision necessary for CBS’s long-term health, writes Joe Nocera. “He had convinced [the board] – just as he had convinced most of Wall Streeet – that he was irreplaceable, that he was worth every penny of his $60 million-plus annual compensation, and that his obsession with earnings per share was the right way to run a media company at this time of immense disruption. But it’s not.”

Fentanyl Makes the Opioid Crisis Even Worse

America’s opioid crisis was bad enough already, killing more than 49,000 people by overdose last year. But it has lately taken an even more sinister turn: The bulk of opioid deaths now involve fentanyl, a huge change from just five years ago. Fentanyl is easier to make and ship than other drugs in its class, and it’s more potent and deadly. So far the Trump administration and Congress haven’t done nearly enough to fight it, warn Bloomberg’s editors. Read the whole thing.

Bonus editorial: This weekend’s strong election showing by an extreme-right party shows Sweden needs to bolster its political center

Ford Understands Business Better Than Trump

President Donald Trump is obviously a master Twitter user, but maybe he should leave the business and economics tweets to the professionals. This morning he incorrectly tweeted GDP was higher than unemployment for the first time in 100 years. And on Friday he cheered Ford Motor Co.’s decision not to import a Chinese-made car, saying it could make the car in the U.S. instead. Ford issued a rare corporate rebuttal of the president, pointing out that making the car in the U.S. was unprofitable. Brooke Sutherland notes Ford is the latest U.S. company to say it’s suffering from Trump’s tariffs: “How many company warnings will it take to convince President Donald Trump that his trade war is backfiring?”

Trump apparently thinks piling tariffs on China will force it to negotiate a better deal with the U.S. In fact, the trade war may be helping Xi Jinping’s plan to make China more self-reliant, writes Michael Schuman: “Xi may be in less of a hurry to seek a trade deal than Trump assumes, and will only conclude one that doesn’t endanger his broader economic agenda.”

Snap Bad at Being Company

Imran Kahn’s resignation as Snap Inc.’s chief strategy officer is the latest hint the social-media company may have no idea what it’s doing, warns Shira Ovide: “In case there was any question before now, Snapchat has confirmed that it is a one-man show – co-founder/CEO/shy emperor Evan Spiegel – and he has made a hash of his company.” Expect the stock, which has done little but fall since its IPO last year, to keep falling, she warns. Read the whole thing.

CBS Is Finally Over the Moonves

Emerging Markets Not Settled Yet

After weeks of selling, emerging-market stocks and currencies seem to have entered a tentative calm period (though they fell again today). Mohamed El-Erian lays out the four specific underlying problems for these markets, none of which have gone away. “[W]e can hope for calmer days ahead for emerging markets but should plan for the probability of renewed volatility.” Read the whole thing.

Bonus emerging-markets reading: India’s rupee is falling, and India should let it fall. – Ila Patnaik 

Chart Attack

Jack Ma is stepping down from Alibaba, but without a clear vision of the future, writes Tim Culpan – who holds Microsoft up as an example of how this can go wrong:

CBS Is Finally Over the Moonves

Wyoming’s Powder River shale basin is just starting to get another look from oil producers, with the Permian tied up by pipeline bottlenecks, writes Liam Denning

CBS Is Finally Over the Moonves

Quick Hits

A planned Grindr IPO in China offers a look at Beijing’s evolution on LGBT rights. – Adam Minter 

There’s some give-and-take between the U.K. and Europe on Brexit, finally – but it’s probably too late for a happy ending – Therese Raphael  

The Dems’ blue wave is almost too late to stop – but it would be just like Trump to try to pull some kind of October surprise. – Al Hunt 

Trump’s Iran sanctions are inflaming OPEC tensions. – Julian Lee 

Russian attacks on U.S. tech have a long history. – Zack Wasserman

Is Elon Musk’s bonkers behavior just the price we pay for his genius? – Justin Fox 

Wild sheep can teach humans a thing or two about leadership. – Faye Flam 

Joe Nocera visits the new Four Seasons restaurant.

The Academy Awards need a better way to get across that popular movies can also be good ones. – Virginia Postrel 

ICYMI

Hurricane Florence strengthened to a Category 4, and evacuations began in the Carolinas. The crypto beatings will continue until morale improves. Ten years after the financial crisis, it’s not entirely clear we’re ready for another one.

Kickers

Shanah tovah! This is the start of the Hebrew year 5779, which Scott Duke Kominers points out is not only a prime number but also a central polygonal number, which will make it easy to cater. The next such year will be 6217. Scott also notes 5779 has three 1s in its golden expansion, which won’t happen again until the year 15128; and that it appears in the Pierce expansion of (3-Sqrt(5))/2, which won’t happen again until the year 192900153617. I don’t know the significance of any of this, but this guy might.

The last of the universe’s ordinary matter has been found, right where you left it.

There are more microbial species on Earth than stars in the sky.

Giant red ball terrorizes Toledo. (h/t honorary BOT editor Scott Duke Kominers)

Giant, glowing clams could help save humanity.

The first Academy Awards had its own version of the “popular” Oscar.

Everybody in Trump’s orbit has a “Simpsons” analog.

Note: What were you doing #WhenLehmanCollapsed? Bloomberg Opinion would like you to share your story on Twitter. By using this hashtag, you’ll give an up-close and personal picture of what happened 10 years ago at the beginning of the financial crisis. The campaign will run from 9/12 – 9/15, and a selection of tweets will be featured by Bloomberg's social media accounts.

Also, please send clams, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Grindr.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Mark Gongloff is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. He previously was a managing editor of Fortune.com, ran the Huffington Post's business and technology coverage, and was a columnist, reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.