Gayle King "Reeling" Over Charlie Rose Sexual Assault Allegations: "He Doesn't Get a Pass"

"There is no excuse for this alleged behavior," CBS This Morning's Norah O'Donnell says

By Zach Johnson Nov 21, 2017 2:20 PMTags

Three networks suspended journalist and TV host Charlie Rose Monday, after eight women accused him of sexual harassment and unwanted advances in a report by The Washington Post. Three women spoke on the record, while five were anonymous. Rose released a statement apologizing for his behavior, but also maintained that some of the allegations were inaccurate.

On Tuesday, CBS This Morning's Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell publicly distanced themselves from the 75-year-old journalist. "Gayle, I know you and I have talked a lot about this, and it takes a lot of courage for these women to come forward, and I think that they should continue to do so. I also want to say that 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," O'Donnell told viewers. "I've been doing a lot of listening and I'm going to continue to do that."

In the Post, Rose was accused of groping female associates and walking around naked in their presence. "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. I am really proud to work at CBS News. There are so many incredible people here, especially on this show—all of you here," O'Donnell said on-air Tuesday. "This will be investigated. This has to end. This behavior is wrong. Period."

Charlie Rose Apologizes, Denies Accusations of Sexual Harassment by Eight Women
Craig Blankenhorn/CBS

King said she is "still reeling" from the accusations made against Rose.

"I got an hour and 42 minutes of sleep last night. Both my son and my daughter called. [Oprah Winfrey] called and said, 'Are you OK?' I am not OK. After reading that article in the Post, it was deeply disturbing, troubling and painful for me to read. That said, I think we have to make this matter to women—the women who have spoken up and the women who have not spoken up because they're afraid. I'm hoping that now they will take the step to speak out, too, that this becomes a moment of truth," a wearied King said. "I've enjoyed a friendship and a partnership with Charlie for the past five years. I have held him in such high regard, and I'm really struggling, because what do you say when someone 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."

But that doesn't mean King has forgiven Rose for his alleged misconduct.

"Charlie does not get a pass here. He doesn't get a pass from anyone in this room," King said. "We are all deeply affected. We are all rocked by this. I want to echo what Norah said: I really applaud the woman who 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. I can't stop thinking about that and the pain that they're going through. I also find that you can hold two ideas in your head at the same time. You can grapple with things. To be very honest with you, I'm still trying to assess all of this. I'm still trying to sort it out, because this is not the man I know—but I am also clearly on the side of the women who have been very hurt and very damaged by this."

Neither host has talked to Rose since the report was published. "I intend to speak to him, certainly later today," King said. "I am very sorry and I am very glad that they have spoken up."

Though it was difficult to discuss the claims against their suspended colleague on-air, she said,

"We have a great team here and we are all very committed to bringing the news, even when it affects us so deeply. None of us ever thought that we'd be sitting at this table in particular telling this story, but he were are. But we will continue to report the news as we always have."