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CBS Fires Charlie Rose Amid Harassment Claims

The president of CBS News said veteran anchor Charlie Rose had been fired from the CBS Corp. unit after allegations that he had harassed former female employees at his production company surfaced Monday, a maneuver that raises questions about the near-term future of the network’s A.M. news show, “CBS This Morning.”

“A short time ago we terminated Charlie Rose’s employment with CBS News, effective immediately. This followed the revelation yesterday of extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior said to have revolved around his PBS program,” said CBS News President David Rhodes in a memo to staffers issued Tuesday.

“Despite Charlie’s important journalistic contribution to our news division, 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,” Rhodes said. “We need to be such a place.”

In a detailed article, The Washington Post reported the accounts of eight women who said Rose had harassed them. Some of the women worked as junior-level producers for his PBS program, “Charlie Rose,” or aspired to do so. Some of the accounts are lurid, alleging Rose would travel with some of the women or invite them to work at his house, and then try to lure them to see him while he showered or otherwise approach them in a sexual manner. The accusations make Rose the latest in a series of prominent figures in media, entertainment and politics to be accused of trying to use his role to strike up sexual relationships with women in subordinate positions.

Reaction to the accounts has been swift. CBS, PBS and Bloomberg, which also ran the PBS program and let Rose use studio space, all suspended him. “I am greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate,” Rose said in a statement. ” I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.”

If Rose’s position with the network wasn’t in doubt, it became so Tuesday morning when “CBS This Morning” co-anchors Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King made heartfelt statements expressing extreme dismay at the reports of his behavior. “Let me be clear: There is no excuse for this alleged behavior,” she said.“This will be investigated. This has to end. This behavior is wrong, period.” Said King: “This is not the man I know, but I’m clearly on the side of the women who have been very hurt and very damaged by this.”

In his memo, Rhodes suggested that the decision to terminate Rose was a matter of maintaining the news division’s integrity. “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,” he said. “That is why we have taken these actions.” CBS News reported later Tuesday that three employees at CBS — not the eight cited in The Washington Post report — had come forward to make similar allegations about Rose’s behavior. CBS did not name the women, but said they indicated that the anchor had made similar entreaties to women after the 2011 incidents cited in the first report.

There is no obvious candidate to succeed Rose in the morning, and it’s not clear CBS will replace him immediately. A CBS News spokesperson could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

But there are a number of potential in-house candidates. Anthony Mason has filled in as interim anchor of “CBS Evening News” since Scott Pelley left the broadcast, and is expected to return to his duties on the weekend edition of “CBS This Morning” once Jeff Glor signs on as that program’s official anchor in a few weeks’ time. Vladmir Duthiers has seen his profile expand as a correspondent for CBSN, the news unit’s streaming-video operation and in reports for other CBS News shows. CBS News in September hired Bianna Golodryga, a former weekend anchor for ABC’s “Good Morning America” who also contributes to CNN.

Morning-TV drama is typically the province of NBC, where “Today” has on occasion suffered during transitions from one anchor to the next. But not CBS. “CBS This Morning” has proved to be of growing strategic importance to the network, which had not fielded a true A.M. competitor since the days of “Captain Kangaroo.” “CBS This Morning” typically eschews some of the more frivolous trappings of the genre, and has seen its viewership grow since its debut in 2012, though it still lags both “Today” and “Good Morning America” in terms of overall audience.

(Updated 11/22, 4:45 a.m. ET)

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