CBS This Morning anchors Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell did not begin today's show on anything resembling a warm, pre-holiday note. Instead, they went directly at the absence of co-anchor Charlie Rose in a candid and stark three-minute opening discussion. (See video below.)
Rose has been suspended by CBS News (and production has been halted of his PBS show) in the wake of allegations by eight women of sexual misconduct, some of which he has admitted and apologized for. As the show began, the two anchors soberly took turns addressing the news about Rose, repeatedly praising the women who came forward with their stories about Rose's unwanted sexual advances in a Washington Post article.
"This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment of where we stand and, more generally, the safety of women," O'Donnell said. "Let me be very clear: There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It is systematic and it is pervasive." She noted her pride in working at CBS News and added, "This will be investigated. This has to end."
King expressed a sense of shock that many viewers of the 75-year-old Rose are also feeling, noting that longtime friend Oprah Winfrey registered her concern. "I am still reeling," she said. "I got an hour and 42 minutes of sleep last night. Oprah called me and asked if I was OK. I am not OK.'"
She went on, "I have enjoyed a friendship and a partnership with Charlie for the past five years and I have held him in such high regard and I am really struggling. … We are all rocked by this."
The two noted that they have not yet spoken with Rose, but plan to do so later in the day. They closed with a vow to keep reporting on the Rose story and the larger waves of sexual harassment revelations that have defined the past two months in American culture and business.
"None of us thought we'd be sitting here at this table reporting this story," King said, "but here we are."