As she signed off from the show, she looked at the camera and said, “I’m Julie Chen Moonves. Goodnight.”
It was the first time that she has used the last name Moonves on the show — and it came just days after her husband was fired after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment.
Moonves has admitted to acting inappropriately in the past but said he has always “understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that ‘no’ means ‘no,’” and never misused his “position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.”
Chen’s sign off elicited gasps in the control room. “No one was angry,” a source in Big Brother production tells PEOPLE. “It was more like ‘Did she just say that? I can’t believe she just said that.'”
The source says that Chen’s message was crystal clear to people who work on the show. “Everyone knows that it’s a big ‘f— you’ to CBS that she did it, because she never, ever refers to herself as anything but Julie Chen.”
“It’s sort of perfect when you think about it,” the source continues. “The casual viewer probably didn’t even notice, but I promise you that the network did. They were watching every single second of the show to see if she would do anything. They must have been breathing a sigh of relief because the show was almost over, and then that happened!”
Chen has consistently stood by her husband amid his sexual misconduct scandal. Days after news broke, Chen — who also co-hosts The Talk — spoke out about the allegations.
“Some of you may be aware of what’s been going on in my life the past few days,” she said on the show. “I issued the one and only statement I will ever make on this topic on Twitter. And I will stand by that statement today, tomorrow, forever.”
In a piece by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker published in July, six women — including actress Illeana Douglas and writer Janet Jones — who professionally dealt with Moonves between the 1980s and late aughts accused him of sexual misconduct.
“Six women who had professional dealings with him told me that … Moonves sexually harassed them. Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine. Two told me that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers,” Farrow writes in his piece. “All said that he became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.”
RELATED VIDEO: CBS CEO Les Moonves Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 6 Women, Including Actress Illeana Douglas
In a statement to The New Yorker, Moonves admitted to acting inappropriately in the past.
“Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” he said.
“Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution,” he continued.
Chen was quick to support her husband when she issued a statement on Twitter.
“I have known my husband, Leslie Moonves, since the late ’90s, and I have been married to him for almost 14 years. Leslie is a good man and a loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader,” Chen tweeted.
“He has always been a kind, decent and moral human being,” she continued. “I fully support my husband and stand behind him and his statement.”
More allegations came out in a second New Yorker profile published Sunday.
Chen, 48, and Moonves, 68, married in 2004 and share 8-year-old son Charlie.
With Chen’s latest comment on Big Brother, she reiterated which side she has chosen. “Now we all know: Julie stands by her husband, not by CBS,” says the Big Brother source. “She made that much clear tonight.”