“What do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something that is so horrible?” Gayle King asked that question on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, but she and Norah O’Donnell could teach a master class about how to respond when someone you work with is accused of sexual harassment. King and O’Donnell, co-hosts of CBS This Morning, bluntly addressed the elephant in the room, the absence of their third co-host, Charlie Rose, who was suspended by CBS News on Monday after eight women shared stories of misconduct in a Washington Post report. (Rose has apologized for “inappropriate behavior” but said he does not believe all of the allegations are accurate.)
O’Donnell spoke first:
This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment of 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 then spoke up to note that she was still “reeling” from yesterday’s Post story and had slept less than two hours the night before. “Both my son and my daughter called me. Oprah called me and said, ‘Are you OK?’ I am not OK.”
King encouraged women to continue speaking up about misconduct and said that her personal and professional relationship with Rose does not overrule her support for the women who accused Rose. “I’ve enjoyed a friendship and a partnership with Charlie for the past five years,” she said. “I’ve held him in such high regard, and I’m really struggling, because what do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something that is so horrible? […] That said, Charlie does not get a pass here.”
Both King and O’Donnell were frank and unequivocal, making it clear that Rose’s behavior is unacceptable and part of a wider problem. King, who has co-hosted CBS This Morning with Rose since its launch in January 2012, made a point of expressing her sympathy for the women who have spoken out even as she tried to reconcile the actions in the Post story with the Rose she knew.