Charlie Rose Sexual Misconduct Claims More Numerous Than Previously Known (Report)

Charlie Rose - Council on Foreign Relations on May 13, 2015 - Getty-H 2018
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The Washington Post, which first reported sexual harassment allegations against Rose, published an exposé on Thursday in which it also claimed that three managers were warned about Rose's conduct toward women over a period of 30 years.

CBS News is under scrutiny for the network's handling of accusations of sexual misconduct lodged against Charlie Rose, who was terminated as co-host of morning show CBS This Morning on Nov. 21.

According to a new, long-rumored investigation into CBS News' handling of the Rose situation by The Washington Post, the results of which were published Thursday, there were more alleged incidents of sexual misconduct than previously reported, and managers were warned about his conduct toward women at the network on three occasions over a period of 30 years, as early as 1986 and as recently as April 2017, according to people with firsthand knowledge of the conversations.

The paper reports that 27 more women, including 14 CBS News employees and 13 who worked with Rose elsewhere, said he sexually harassed them.

The new allegations against Rose date back to 1976 when a former research assistant of his claimed he exposed his penis and touched her breasts when the two were working in NBC News' Washington bureau.

“This other personality would come through, and the groping would happen,” Joana Matthias, now 63, told the Post. An NBC News spokeswoman declined the paper request for comment.

Another woman, now 27, claims that when she was working at 60 Minutes in 2013, where Rose was a contributing correspondent, he groped her buttocks as they were walking down a hallway. She and other accusers who worked at CBS said they feared reporting the violations to executives as, they believed, those higher-ups prioritized the careers of male stars.

“I had been there long enough to know that it was just the way things went,” Sophie Gayter told the Post. “People said what they wanted to you, people did what they wanted to you.”

The Post's investigation is based on interviews conducted over a five-month period with 107 current and former CBS News employees and two dozen others who worked with Rose at other outlets. The Post said it corroborated specific accounts with witnesses or people in whom they confided.

Rose responded to the Post investigation with the following statement: "Your story is unfair and inaccurate.”

CBS News, meanwhile, said it had no human resources complaints about Rose and added in a statement to the Post, “Since we terminated Charlie Rose, we’ve worked to strengthen existing systems to ensure a safe environment where everyone can do their best work. Some of the actions we have taken have been reported publicly, some have not. We offer employees discretion and fairness, and we take swift action when we learn of unacceptable behavior. That said, we cannot corroborate or confirm many of the situations described. We continue to look for ways to improve our workplace, and this period of reflection and action has been important to all of us. We are not done with this process.”

Former CBS News chairman and longtime 60 Minutes head Jeff Fager, whom the Post claims hired Rose for multiple roles, said via email that he had no knowledge of any allegations against Rose until the Post's November report. 

“I was never informed that Charlie behaved badly with women,” Fager wrote. “I hired him because he was one of the best interviewers in the country. Period. If I knew there was this darker side he never would have been hired.”

In March, CBS News president David Rhodes said he, too, "was not aware of harassment by Charlie Rose at CBS.”

And in a forum last month at George Washington University, when asked if the network protected Rose or knew of his behavior, Rhodes said, “Just to be really clear, there was not knowledge.” CBS recently announced the formation of a working group of 12 employees designed to "assess our workplace environment and hear ideas and suggestions to make CBS News an even better place to do important journalism." In-person sexual-harassment training is now mandatory for all employees, CBS News told the Post.

In 1986, when Rose was filling in as an anchor on CBS Morning News, Annemarie Parr, a then-22-year-old news clerk delivered a script to Rose, who, she said, had previously made "lewd, little comments" about her appearance. That day, she recalled, he asked her, "Do you like sex? Do you enjoy it? How often do you like to have sex?"

She laughed nervously and left, she told the Post. But, in the first instance identified by the newspaper in which a manager was told of his conduct, Parr said she reported Rose's comments to her boss, a senior producer she declined to name, and said she didn't want to be alone with Rose. The producer laughed, Parr said, and told her "Fine, you don’t have to be alone with him anymore."

That same year, seven women sued CBS claiming the workplace on overnight news program Nightwatch was "offensive and hostile" to female employees. Rose was a co-anchor for the show in Washington but not named in that lawsuit. The women accused CBS of knowingly tolerating an environment of sexual harassment by executive producer John Huddy and unidentified other employees. Huddy resigned before the suit was filed.

One of the plaintiffs, Beth Homan-Ross, who worked with Rose as an assistant producer, told the Post that he made frequent sexual remarks about her breasts and buttocks. When she arrived at his house to deliver materials or prepare him for work, he would sometimes open the door naked, holding a towel, she recalled, adding that he more than once asked her to come into his bathroom while he was showering, but she declined.

“It was a sexual land mine everywhere you stepped,” Homan-Ross, now 61, said of working at Nightwatch in D.C. The lawsuit was settled confidentially in 1987.

Rose left CBS in 1990 and launched his own show at PBS the following year. But he returned to CBS in 1998 as a correspondent for 60 Minutes II, continuing to host his eponymous PBS program.

By then, the Post claims, "some at CBS were concerned about Rose’s conduct toward women."

A CBS News executive told Susan McArthur, who was interviewing in the late '90s to be Rose's assistant, to "steer clear" because of his history of "questionable behavior."

“She looked me dead in the eyes and said, ‘You are going to be working alone with this man and being alone with this man in his hotel, and you need to think really hard about whether you want to do this,’ ” MacArthur said, declining to name the executive but heeding that advice.

With his dual roles at CBS and PBS, where he was the boss, the lines were often blurred. For instance, he brought a 20-year-old intern from his PBS show on a CBS trip to California for a 60 Minutes II assignment. On the plane, she said, he insisted she drink wine and began to "paw" her. He squeezed her breast during the car ride from the airport, the former intern said, adding that he insisted they work in his hotel room and that he wanted her "to ride" him. She said no and left his room. 

Back in New York, she told his PBS executive producer Yvette Vega of her concerns and Vega said he was harmless, the Post reports.

In 2008, Rose was brought on to the flagship 60 Minutes as a contributing correspondent by Fager, his boss at 60 Minutes II, who had been named as 60 Minutes' executive producer. And when Fager became CBS News chairman in 2011, he tapped him to co-host the network's struggling morning show, which became CBS This Morning.

Soon after he was hired at CBS This Morning, his inappropriate behavior was flagged to a supervisor after he allegedly forcibly kissed a CBS This Morning employee at a holiday party in 2011. The woman he kissed told then CBS This Morning executive producer Chris Licht, who now serves as the showrunner for CBS' Late Show With Stephen Colbert, what happened but asked him not to tell HR.

Licht confirmed in an email to the Post that he was told about the kissing incident and spoke to Rose about it, abiding by the employees' wishes not to tell HR.

Licht, who served as executive producer for CBS This Morning until 2016, said he received no other complaints about inappropriate sexual behavior by Rose. A CBS News spokeswoman said Licht's actions were "within the scope of CBS policy at the time" and the "employee in question was satisfied with the result." The spokeswoman added that CBS revised its policy in 2016 to require supervisors to promptly report harassment complaints to the human resources department or a compliance officer.

Still, there were additional instances of alleged sexual misconduct by Rose, one in January 2012 on the CBS This Morning set, and another in early 2017, by which point Licht had been replaced by current executive producer Ryan Kadro

Brooks Harris, then 24, had been working the night shift and was briefly assigned to work in the studio in the morning. Rose approached her, she said, and said he'd heard she was smart and talked to Kadro about her. She said Rose began taking her to lunch at expensive restaurants and floated job opportunities at 60 Minutes and his PBS show.

Kadro's then-executive assistant, Chelsea Wei, grew concerned about Rose's one-on-one lunches with Harris outside the office, the Post reports. Wei, who still works for the network, said she told Kadro in April 2017 that she was worried Rose's attention to Harris seemed unusual, adding, "I’m telling you in case you have a lawsuit on your hands.” Kadro did not seem alarmed, she said.

In an email to the Post, Kadro said, "Ms. Wei did not tell me about inappropriate behavior by Charlie Rose towards Ms. Harris at any time. ... Regarding your question about a ‘lawsuit’ — I don’t believe she used that word.”

Days later, Harris said, Rose offered her a job at his PBS show, which paid her $20,000 more than she'd been making. Kadro, Harris said, encouraged her to take the job, but Kadro denies this.

Once Harris started working at Charlie Rose, the eponymous host's behavior made her uncomfortable, she said. She said Rose told her he hired her because he liked tall women and once suggested she have sex with another female assistant, Sydney McNeal.

McNeal confirmed the remarks to the Post and said working for Rose was "toxic" and "made me question my intelligence, dignity and worth as a human being almost every day.” Rose continued to make suggestive comments about Harris and McNeal and asked Harris to come up to his apartment late one night last July, an invitation she declined, the women tell the Post.

Harris, Wei and McNeal retained an attorney, Ken Goldberg, who sent Rose and CBS a letter containing their allegations in February. Goldberg told the Post that his clients plan to file a lawsuit in the coming days.

Rose's former CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King reacted to the report during the Thursday broadcast of the morning news program.

"I have a very bad case of déjà vu, I have to say. I feel sick to my stomach, and I don't know what to say about this. When the story first broke, I said Charlie was my friend. I still consider him a friend. I know that's probably not the politically correct thing to say at this moment, but I don't believe in abandoning friends when they're down," she said alongside Norah O'Donnell and John Dickerson. "That said, this is very troubling, very disturbing and you can't discount what these women are saying."

King went on to say that she "[doesn't] know what more we can do to Charlie Rose, except a public flogging."

She continued: "He's gone. He's not coming back to CBS News. Norah O'Donnell, John Dickerson and I are the new team. We are working very hard here. I know that we bring up quality broadcasts surrounded by a quality team and all we can continue to do is do the best possible job that we can."

Though she said she is "sick of handling" Rose's sexual misconduct saga, Gayle assured viewers that she and the CBS News team "are not running away from it."

CBS suspended Rose when the original accusations were published, including eight women claiming he'd sexually harassed them, and then fired him one day later. "None of the women who made accusations against Rose to the Post worked for PBS or CBS," according to the original Post story. CBS News also told the Post that it had "no records of sexual harassment complaints about Charlie Rose."

At the time, CBS News president David Rhodes explained the decision to fire Rose by saying, "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."

CBS News had been expecting the Post's report on the network's handling of the matter. A source at the network told The Hollywood Reporter in March that the Post was working on such a story. That revelation spilled into public view when The Drudge Report splashed in early March that the Post was preparing a "bombshell report on 'sex turmoil'" at a television network, naming CBS News as the target one day later.

PBS and Bloomberg stopped distributing his Charlie Rose interview show shortly after he was fired from CBS.

Evan Real contributed to this report.