That’s how CBS This Morning host Gayle King described her reaction to the news that co-host, and PBS correspondent Charlie Rose is the latest to be called out and admit to sexual misconduct charges leveled at him.
Sitting alone at their morning table, and looking into the camera with sober faces, Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King discussed their reactions to the news about a man they have admired and shared co-hosting duties with for the last five years. O’Donnell was particularly pointed.
“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 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. This will be investigated. This has to end. This behavior is wrong. Period.”
King was equally direct in conveying her emotional shock and loss.
“I got an hour and 42 minutes of sleep last night,” King said. “Both my son and my daughter called me, Oprah called me 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 that have spoken up, 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. This becomes a moment of truth.
“You know, I’ve enjoyed a friendship and a partnership with Charlie for the past five years,” King described. “I’ve held him in such high regard and I’m really struggling because how do you — 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. He doesn’t get a pass from anyone in this room. We are all deeply affected. We are all rocked by this. And 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. I can’t stop thinking about that and the pain they are going through.
“I also find that you can hold two ideas in your head at the same time, you can grapple with things. And I’m, to be very honest with you, I’m still trying to process all of this. I’m still trying to sort it out because this is not the man I know, but I’m also clearly on the side of the women who have been very hurt and very damaged by this,” King said.
CBS formally fired Rose from all work at CBS News including his occasional reports for 60 Minutes, and PBS has stopped carrying his show.
“ ‘At least three women who asked not to be identified said they experienced unwanted sexual contact from Rose while working at CBS News,’ Bianna Golodryga reported on the CBS Evening News.
“ ‘As personal as this story is,’ Golodryga added, ‘we will continue to cover it here, diligently, at CBS.’ ”
After the revelations of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in October, I wrote that “…we shouldn’t wait for women to come forward and report sexual misconduct or assault. Men who observe or suspect such behavior have a duty to speak out, as well.”