CBS This Morning covers news from around the globe, so there’s no shortage of stories for the network morning show.
Still, the string of sexual harassment allegations in the entertainment industry in recent weeks has been a hot topic on the morning newscast.
When it comes to drawing the line between hard and entertainment news, co-host Charlie Rose told The Hollywood Reporter that it all comes down to the larger implications.
“Many of these stories have societal impact in terms of changing the same way that marriage equality has societal impact,” he said. “There are certain things that happen in society that show it’s moving forward.”
Co-host Norah O’Donnell added, “As a team we look at a lot of the accusations that are made. We make a judgment at CBS News whether it’s an allegation that should be repeated and give it the proper context.”
While speaking on a panel at The Paley Center for Media in New York on Wednesday (Nov. 1), co-hosts Gayle King, O’Donnell, Rose and executive producer Ryan Kadro further discussed the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations with moderator Marisa Guthrie, THR‘s East Coast TV editor.
“We all know Harvey. I always thought that Harvey was very passionate about his movies and certainly had a very strong personality, but I never ever thought any of that,” King said of the allegations against Weinstein. “People said, ‘Oh, it was such an open secret. Everybody knew.’ No, we didn’t.” The co-host also stated that Weinstein’s appearances on CBS This Morning would not have happened had the production team been aware of the allegations. “If we had any inkling about that, I know Harvey Weinstein would not have been welcomed to the table in an open conversation.”
“It is historic. It is a moment in history,” O’Donnell said about the flood of sexual misconduct allegations that have come out since The New York Times first reported four weeks ago on Weinstein’s alleged decades of harassment. “There’s an interesting discussion about whether there’s gonna be blowback for women, how it’s gonna affect the work place,” she added. “How will people now look at each other in the workplace because of that reporting? Does that ultimately hurt women? I don’t think that’s true.” O’Donnell concluded, “I think this is a great thing. I think the more that this stuff comes out in the open, it should change people’s behavior and it should empower more women to be able to speak up.”
King added that it’s important they contribute to the conversation as journalists. “I do think that that’s a silver lining, that more people will speak up. Men, too, will say that this is not acceptable and no longer will turn a blind eye,” she said.
The journalists segued into the allegations against former President George H.W. Bush in which a handful of women, including two actresses, have accused Bush of inappropriately touching them during photo ops. “Is it inappropriate? Absolutely. Was it wrong? Absolutely,” said King. “But to then see that he was labeled in the same category as sexual harassment, or sexual assault even, I just thought that might have taken it a step too far.” She added that it’s important not to blur the lines of what is and is not considered sexual harassment. “I’m not excusing what he did, because I do think it’s wrong, but I do think that was very different than what we’re seeing about Harvey Weinstein and Roy Price.”
While the world of hard news has been taking on the entertainment industry in recent weeks, Hollywood has also done its fair share of mimicking the news business. Rose and O’Donnell talked to THR about CBS This Morning’s satirized appearance on the sixth season of Veep. On the HBO series, Dan Egan (Reid Scott) landed a co-hosting job on the morning show. “We’re big fans of Veep, and we love that they had the coffee mugs and graphics exactly right, so we thought it was very well done,” said O’Donnell. “They did a really nice job.”
Rose added that the entrainment industry’s portrayal of hard news tends to be comical. “Satire is satire. That’s what people who are creating entertainment do. They look for ways in which to be funny and sometimes have a message within being funny,” he said. “You just accept that as part of the territory. If in fact you have some public exposure as a television program or as an individual, it goes with the flow.”