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Charlie Rose Harassment Incidents Were Known to CBS (Report)

Executives at CBS News had previously been made aware of inappropriate and harassing behavior by former “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Charlie Rose, according to an investigation into the matter by the Washington Post.

The report, based on interviews over a five-month period with 107 current and former CBS News employees as well as two dozen others who worked with Rose at other television programs, said that concerns about Rose’s behavior were flagged to CBS executives as early as 1986, when Rose worked for CBS News in a different capacity, and as recently as April 2017.  The newspaper found three incidents over a period of 30 years when CBS managers were alerted to the veteran newsman’s behavior toward women. CBS News fired Rose in November of last year after the Post reported on allegations that he had harassed women at his own production company, which produced his long-running and now-cancelled PBS program.

In a statement made to the Post, Rose said, ““Your story is unfair and inaccurate.”

The report details allegations of Rose groping employees or touching them inappropriately; speaking to them about sex; and, in one 2011 incident, forcibly kissing an employee at a party he organized for staffers who worked with him.

“Since we terminated Charlie Rose, we’ve worked to strengthen existing systems to ensure a safe environment where everyone can do their best work,” CBS News said in a statement to the Post. “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.”

A number of prominent CBS executives said they were either unaware of Rose’s behavior or believed they acted within guidelines. David Rhodes, CBS News president, said he was not aware of any harassment by Rose at CBS.

Jeff Fager, a former CBS News chairman and current executive producer of “60 Minutes,” said he had never been informed of Rose’s behavior with women. Rose contributed reports to the CBS newsmagazine.

The unnamed woman in the 2011 incident said she reported it to Chris Licht, formerly the executive producer of “CBS This Morning” and currently an executive producer at CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Licht did not report the matter to human resources executives at the request of the employee, the report said, but did confront Rose about the situation. CBS News told the Post that Licht acted “within the scope of CBS policy at the time,” which has since been revised to require an immediate report of such behavior to management.

The report said that Ryan Kadro, currently the executive producer of “CBS This Morning,” was made aware by an employee of other behavior by Rose. Kadro said he was not told of inappropriate behavior.

In a note to CBS News staffers, Rhodes articulated the steps taken since Rose was ousted to “ensure a safe and respectful environment for people to do their best work here at CBS News.”

Here’s the full memo:

From time to time since we terminated Charlie Rose, I’ve done my best to keep everyone as informed as possible about what we are doing to ensure a safe and respectful environment for people to do their best work here at CBS News. Some of these efforts have been confidential, particularly when they involved sensitive personnel issues.  

In light of today’s article, I’d like to share that we have continued to investigate a number of issues consistent with our long-standing policies. As needed our company has supported this effort with the independent advice of one of the nation’s pre-eminent employment lawyers from Proskauer, which has a highly-regarded practice in these matters.

This has been a significant focus for us this year. It should be, since getting this right is critical. So is our responsibility to afford due process to all concerned.  The journalism we do here is important—but nothing is more important than the people who do it.

Several important steps have already been taken. We’ve added in-person training around misconduct, and this training is mandatory.  We’ve convened a Working Group of colleagues not limited to the HR and Legal areas in order to give each other the tools we need to report issues and handle problems as management.  We’ve seen that best practices in the workplace require a focus not just on sexual misconduct but also on pay practices, diversity, and inclusion.  We’ve made great strides in these areas in recent years, and we want to be in a leadership role in our industry in every one of these categories.

We will continue our accounting for what has happened here before, and we will be the best place to do what we do in the future—I know we can be.

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