The visibly shaken female hosts of "CBS This Morning" addressed the sexual harassment allegations against their longtime colleague Charlie Rose at the start of their show Tuesday, saying "we are all rocked by this."
An explosive Washington Post story published Monday reported on eight women who accused Rose of unwanted groping, lewd phone calls, inappropriate sexual advances and exhibitionism over decades in the journalism business. Rose was suspended by CBS News, Bloomberg and PBS—the latter two outlets carry his eponymous interview program—pending further investigation.
A stone-faced Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King led off their show with the report at a table where Rose has sat almost every weekday morning since 2012.
O'Donnell called it "news affecting all of us at this broadcast." Frequently when Rose has been absent from the show in the past, a male CBS correspondent has filled his chair, but on Tuesday, it was just the two women.
After CBS correspondent Bianna Golodryga summarized the lurid allegations against Rose, O'Donnell and King discussed the painful story and the wider issue of sexual harassment in the workplace.
"It takes a lot of courage for these women to come forward," O'Donnell said.
O'Donnell added this "moment" requires a "frank and honest assessment" about harassment and the overall safety of women. A flood of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men in media, Hollywood and politics over the past two months has driven the issue to the forefront.
"Let me be very clear. There is no excuse for this alleged behavior," O'Donnell said. "It is systematic and pervasive … This I know is true. Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or in society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility."
King said she could barely sleep after the story broke and she's "not OK" after reading about Rose.
"I have held [Rose] in such high regard, and I'm really struggling, because what do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something that is so horrible?" she asked. "How do you wrap your brain around that? I'm really grappling with that. That said, Charlie does not get a pass here … We are all rocked by this."
King said she was still trying to process the news and couldn't stop thinking about the women she said had been "damaged" by his reported behavior.
Rose's prolific career spans more than four decades, and he's hosted "Charlie Rose" since 1991.
He issued a statement Monday apologizing for his past conduct, saying he was embarrassed but adding he didn't feel all of the allegations were accurate.