NEW YORK, N.Y. – CBS News and PBS both cut ties to Charlie Rose on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after several women who worked with him on his PBS interview show alleged a pattern of sexual misconduct, including groping and walking naked in front of them.
Both organizations stressed the importance of providing a safe, professional workplace.
Rose joins a lengthening list of media figures who have lost jobs because of workplace behaviour, including Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, Fox host Bill O’Reilly, NBC News political reporter Mark Halperin and National Public Radio news chief Michael Oreskes. The reckoning has come to entertainment, too, led by the assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
The actions by CBS and PBS came after both institutions suspended Rose on Monday night.
“Despite Charlie’s important journalistic contribution to our news division, there is absolutely nothing more important, in this or any organization, than ensuring a safe, professional workplace_a supportive environment where people feel they can do their best work,” CBS News President David Rhodes said in a memo to staff on Tuesday. “We need to be such a place.”
Rhodes said it was important to maintaining credibility in reporting allegations involving media figures elsewhere that CBS manage basic standards of behaviour at its own shop. Rose hosted “CBS This Morning” each weekday and was a contributor to “60 Minutes.”
Rose had no immediate reaction to his firing. In a statement late Monday, he apologized for his actions and said he was “deeply embarrassed.”
Several women have accused Rose of touching them on the breasts, buttocks or thigh, emerging naked from a shower when they were working at his residence and, in one case, calling a 21-year-old staffer to tell his fantasies of seeing her swim in the nude. A former associate producer for Rose’s PBS show, Reah Bravo, told the Washington Post: “He was a sexual predator, and I was his victim.”
CBS said it wasn’t aware of any complaints about Rose’s behaviour at its own organization. It wasn’t until the Post story that PBS said it knew about Rose’s actions.
PBS didn’t technically fire Rose, since the 75-year-old newsman owns the company that produces his show. Since 1991, Rose has interviewed leading figures in politics, entertainment, business, the media and government at a depth not usually seen on television.
His show aired in 94 per cent of the country. PBS said it hasn’t yet considered what will replace the show; the service is providing member stations reruns of programs like “This Old House” and “Finding Your Roots” to fill holes in their schedule this week.
Rose’s downfall hits CBS hard. Since its start in 2012, “CBS This Morning” has been a critical hit with a newsier format compared to better-known rivals at ABC and NBC. Until recently, CBS has rarely been competitive in the lucrative morning show competition but the program has been on a ratings upswing, too.
In an extraordinary broadcast Tuesday, Rose’s co-hosts Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell worked without a substitute and sharply took their former colleague to task. The story about Rose led the show. In the 90-second “eye-opener” segment that collected clips of the day’s news, two pundits were quoted speculating the charges would end Rose’s career. “He’s toast,” said one off-screen voice.
“This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment about where we stand and more generally the safety of women,” O’Donnell said. “Let me be very clear. There is no excuse for this alleged behaviour.”
King said she had gotten less than two hours of sleep since the story broke and even called her buddy Oprah Winfrey to commiserate. She said she considered Rose a friend and held him in high regard, but was struggling because “what do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something so horrible?
“How do you wrap your brain around that?” she said. “I’m really grappling with that. That said, Charlie does not get a pass here. He doesn’t get a pass from anyone in this room.”
She said that while the story described a Rose she did not know, “I’m also clearly on the side of the women who have been very hurt and damaged by this.” O’Donnell also said that women cannot achieve equality in the workplace until men take responsibility for their behaviour. Rhodes’ note, too, illustrated the rapidly changing workplace environment.
“I’ve often heard that things used to be different,” the news division president said. “And no one may be able to correct the past. But what may once have been accepted should not ever have been acceptable.”
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated PBS fired Charlie Rose.