US networks sack TV host Rose over sexual misconduct claims

Jennie MATTHEW
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US television host Charlie Rose - here with "CBS This Morning" co-hosts Norah O'Donnell (L) and Gayle King (R) - was fired following reports of inappropriate sexual conduct with eight women

Charlie Rose, one of America's most well-respected television news hosts, was sacked Tuesday by several US networks, becoming the latest powerful man to fall from grace following allegations of sexual misconduct.

It was a stunning blow for the 75-year-old award-winning broadcaster who has interviewed the likes of Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, coming less than 24 hours after sexual harassment accusations by eight women came to light.

In a bombshell Washington Post report, five of the women "described Rose putting his hand on their legs, sometimes their upper thigh." Two said he "walked naked in front of them" after taking a shower. One said he "groped her buttocks" at a staff party.

The alleged harassment took place from the 1990s to 2011. The women, in their 20s and 30s, were either employees on his "Charlie Rose" interview show or aspired to join his staff.

On Tuesday, CBS News said Rose's employment had been "terminated" with immediate effect after what it called "extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior" alleged by women who worked on his flagship interview program for public broadcaster PBS.

"No one may be able to correct the past. But what may once have been accepted should not ever have been acceptable," said CBS News president David Rhodes.

"CBS News has reported on extraordinary revelations at other media companies this year and last. Our credibility in that reporting requires credibility managing basic standards of behavior. That is why we have taken these actions."

Hours later, three new accusers who work at CBS News came forward with claims against Rose, according to the broadcaster.

Rose had co-hosted the "CBS This Morning" news program and was a contributing correspondent for "60 Minutes." He had already been suspended on Monday.

PBS, which aired "Charlie Rose," quickly said it had also "terminated its relationship" with the journalist and "cancelled distribution of his programs."

"PBS expects all the producers we work with to provide a workplace where people feel safe and are treated with dignity and respect," a spokesperson said.

- 'A moment' -

His downfall comes as the United States grapples with an avalanche of sexual assault and harassment scandals rocking the worlds of entertainment, business and politics, and sparked by myriad allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Sixty percent of US women voters say they have experienced sexual harassment and more than two thirds of them said it happened at work, a Quinnipiac University poll shows.

Rose had apologized on Monday for what he called "inappropriate behavior" but said he did "not believe that all of these allegations are accurate."

His sacking now leaves in tatters a once glittering career in which he won three Emmy awards, the highest accolade in US television, and a Peabody journalism prize for his 2013 interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Earlier on Tuesday, "CBS This Morning" hosts Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell addressed the departure of their now ex-colleague and defended his accusers.

"Charlie does not get a pass here," King said.

"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."

O'Donnell said "this is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment about where we stand and more generally the safety of women."

"Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or in society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility," she added.

Syndicated nationwide since 1993, "Charlie Rose" had been a one-on-one interview show with prominent guests and had aired on 215 PBS affiliate stations.