It's not just viewers who take issue with the racist remarks that have been made on "Big Brother" this season. CBS CEO Les Moonves, speaking publicly for the first time about the issue, said he isn't pleased with the insensitive comments either, made most notably by houseguest Aaryn Gries and a few others.
"I find the behavior absolutely appalling," Moonves told reporters Monday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour in Beverly Hills. "I've watched every episode of the show. My wife ('Big Brother' host Julie Chen) would kill me if I didn't! We discuss it quite a bit. I think we're handling it properly. We did not comment on things that were (said) until it affected the show."
He added that unfortunately, the show is "reflecting how certain people feel in America."
As for the casting of personalities, Moonves noted that, "Obviously, you don't want wallflowers on reality shows. You want people who are interesting. Obviously that can sometimes lead to controversy."
Most of the bad behavior has been caught by "Big Brother's" ever present 24/7 live-stream cameras, content that is available with a pay subscription. Only a small portion of the derogatory remarks have made it to the air, with the majority of it uttered by Gries. But the live feed has revealed other racist and homophobic comments by GinaMarie Zimmerman and Spencer Clawson, as well as a few others. Most of the remarks have been made about African-American contestant Candice Stewart and Korean-American housemate Helen Kim.
Though the contestants are now aware of Gries' remarks, they're keeping her in the "Big Brother" house because they don't think she can win. But if she does?
"If she wins the whole prize, America should take a look at itself," Moonves told reporters after the session.
Since the controversy first broke earlier this month, none of the network's top brass had addressed the issue. But CBS had issued short statements to the press saying the network was "weighing carefully issues of broadcast standards," and that "Houseguests reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone."
Gries, Zimmerman and Clawson have all faced real-world repercussions for their in-game behavior, though they don't know it yet due to being sequestered for the show. Gries has been dropped by her modeling agency, Zimmerman has been fired, and Clawson's employer has released a statement distancing themselves from him.
— Additional reporting by Michael Maloneyand Dru Moorhouse.