Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell Slam Co-Anchor Charlie Rose Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations
CBS This Morning anchors Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell opened Tuesday’s show with some choice words for their former co-host Charlie Rose, who was suspended Monday from the CBS morning show after eight women came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against the veteran broadcast journalist.
The two female anchors gave heartfelt speeches in support of Rose’s alleged victims, making it clear that they and CBS wouldn’t tolerate that sort of behavior moving forward.
“It takes a lot of courage for these women to come forward and I think that they should continue to do so,” O’Donnell, 43, began. “This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment about where we stand and more generally the safety of women. Let me be very clear: There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It is systematic and pervasive and I’ve been doing a lot of listening and I’m going to continue to do that.”
“This I know is true, women can not achieve equality in the workplace or in society until there is a reckoning or taking of responsibility,” she continued. “I am so proud to work at CBS News. There are so many incredibly people here, especially on this show. All of you here. This will be investigated. This has to end. This behavior is wrong.”
King, who has worked with Rose and O’Donnell on CBS This Morning since 2012, told the audience that she is “reeling.”
“I got 1 hour and 42 minutes of sleep last night,” King, 62, said. “Both my son [William Bumpus, Jr.] and my daughter [Kirby Bumpus] called me. Oprah called me and said, ‘Are you okay?’ I am not okay. After reading that article in the Post, it was deeply disturbing, troubling and painful for me to read.”
“I think that we have to make this matter to woman — the woman that have spoken up, the women who have not spoken up because they are afraid, I’m hoping that now they will take the step to speak up too and that this becomes a moment of truth,” King continued.
She then reflected on her personal relationship with Rose, revealing that the allegations against him have put her in a difficult position.
“I’ve enjoyed a friendship and a partnership with Charlie for the last 5 years. I’ve held him in such high regard,” she said. “What do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something that is so horrible? How do you wrap your brain around that? I’m really grappling with that.”
“That said, Charlie does not get a pass here,” King said. “He does not get a pass from anyone in this room. We are all deeply affected, we are all rocked by this.”
Echoing O’Donnell, King applauded the woman who have spoken up. “I can’t stop speaking about the anguish of these women,” King said. “What happened to their dignity, what happened to their bodies, what happened to maybe their careers — I can’t stop thinking about that and the pain they’re going through.”
“I also find you can hold two ideas in your head at the same time,” she said. “You can grapple with things. To be very honest with you, I’m still trying to process all of this, I’m still trying to process this because this is not the man I know. But I’m also clearly on the side of the women who’ve been very hurt and damaged by this. I haven’t spoken to him, I intend to speak to him later today. But I’m very sorry and I’m very glad that they have spoken up.”
O’Donnell and King both assured viewers that they would continue to report on the allegations against Rose. “We have a great team here who are committed to bringing you the news even when it affects us so deeply,” King said. “None of us ever thought that we’d be sitting at this table in particular telling this story, but here we are. We will continue to report the news as we always have.”
The Washington Post published a report Monday in which eight women alleged that Rose, 75, made non-consensual sexual advances towards them, including groping, lewd calls and walking naked in their presence, while they either worked for or aspired to work for the TV host on his Charlie Rose show spanning from the late ’90s to 2011.
In a statement to PEOPLE on Monday, CBS News said that “Charlie Rose is suspended immediately while we look into this matter. These allegations are extremely disturbing and we take them very seriously.”
According to the Post, PBS — which distributes Charlie Rose — and Bloomberg LP — the show is filmed at its headquarters in Manhattan — have also suspended distribution of Charlie Rose.
Rose, who also contributes to 60 Minutes, apologized for his behavior in a statement to the Post: “In my 45 years in journalism, I have prided myself on being an advocate for the careers of the women with whom I have worked. Nevertheless, in the past few days, claims have been made about my behavior toward some former female colleagues.”
“It is essential that these women know I hear them and that I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken,” his statement continued.
“I have learned a great deal as a result of these events, and I hope others will too,” he concluded. “All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives.”