NEW YORK — CBS News fired morning show host 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.
The network’s news president, David Rhodes, said there is nothing more important than assuring a safe, professional workplace.
To date, there have been no accusations of bad behavior by Rose from people who work at CBS News. He’s been a co-host of “CBS This Morning” since 2012 and a contributor to “60 Minutes.” The allegations, first outlined in The Washington Post, are from people who worked with him or prospective employees at his nightly PBS show, which has been suspended by that network.
“I’ve often heard that things used to be different,” Rhodes said in a memo to CBS News staff. “And no one may be able to correct the past. But what may once have been accepted should not ever have been acceptable.”
He noted that CBS News has reported on sexual misconduct revelations at other media companies for the past two years. “Our credibility in that reporting requires credibility managing basic standards of behavior,” he wrote. “That is why we have taken these actions.”
There’s been a flood of misconduct stories involving prominent men since The New York Times reported on Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein this fall. Predating that are harassment accusations that cost former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and the network’s top personality, Bill O’Reilly, their jobs.
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.”
Rose had no immediate reaction to his firing. In a statement late Monday, he apologized for his actions and said he was “deeply embarrassed.”
Rose’s two co-hosts on “CBS This Morning,” Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, were sharply critical of their colleague on the air Tuesday. The story of Rose’s behavior led his former broadcast.
“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 behavior.”
King 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.”
The “CBS This Morning” eye-opener segment, a 90-second collection of film clips about the day, also led with the Rose story and quoted two pundits speculating the charges may end his career. “He’s toast,” said one off-screen voice.