Charlie Rose’s CBS News career came to an unceremonious end Tuesday when the network fired him over allegations of sexual harassment.
“A short time ago we terminated Charlie Rose’s employment with CBS News, effective immediately,” CBS News President David Rhodes wrote in a note to staff. “This followed the revelation yesterday of extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior said to have revolved around his PBS program. 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. We need to be such a place.”
Rose’s departure marks the downfall of one of television’s most venerable journalists and a major blow to CBS News, which enjoyed its greatest success ever in the morning thanks to “CBS This Morning,” which was built around Rose and his co-anchors, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, in 2012.
Rose’s serious demeanor and ability to engage a wide range of personalities in politics, the arts and business earned him respect and global recognition. He frequently jetted off to land interviews with world leaders.
“There is not a single person of note on the planet who does not know who he is,” said one CBS News executive who spoke on condition of anonymity. “His talent was so in the stratosphere.”
CBS had moved quickly Monday to suspend Rose, 75, after the Washington Post reported that day that eight women said they were subjected to inappropriate behavior while working with him. The story said Rose made unwanted sexual advances, appeared nude in their presence or groped them. His PBS talk show also was halted and there was no immediate update on the long-term status of the program.
Rose posted a statement on Twitter apologizing for his “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,” he said. “I always felt that I pursued shared feelings though I now realize that I was mistaken.”
On the Tuesday morning “CBS This Morning” broadcast, King and Donnell weighed in about their colleague.
“There is no excuse for this alleged behavior,” O’Donnell said. “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 cannot achieve equality in the workplace or in society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility.”
King said she was “reeling” from the revelations about Rose and got little sleep before Tuesday’s episode of the show.
“We are all rocked by this,” King said. “And I — I want to echo what Norah said. I really applaud the women that speak up despite the friendship. He doesn’t get a pass because I can’t stop thinking about the anguish of these women, what happened to their dignity, what happened to their bodies, what happened maybe to even their careers.”
For CBS, a change to the lineup around the glass roundtable at its studio in Manhattan presents a challenge for what has become a profitable bright spot for its news division.
Rose’s presence on “CBS This Morning” signified a commitment to serious news, which has been a major factor in the program’s ratings growth in recent years.
“CBS This Morning” has run in third place behind ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today.” But since 2012, the CBS program has added viewers, while ABC and NBC have seen significant declines.
King, a longtime TV personality best known for her close friendship with Oprah Winfrey, has emerged as a network news star on the program. But Rose was seen as giving the show its creditability as a smarter alternative for morning viewers.
CBS did not name a replacement for Rose on “CBS This Morning.” A number of CBS News personalities are expected to fill his chair until a permanent co-anchor is named.