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Report: CBS managers were told of Charlie Rose misconduct allegations as early as 1986

Charlie Rose lost both his PBS interview show and his job as anchor of CBS This Morning more than five months ago. Now the Washington Post reports that the incidents of Rose's sexual misconduct were far more numerous than previously reported, and that CBS managers were told about them as early as 1986. John Yang learns more from Amy Brittain of the Washington Post.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now, new allegations of sexual harassment and a longtime abuse of power by a former well-known TV news anchor and, this time, as John Yang explains, claims about just how much the network management knew.

  • John Yang:

    Judy, it was more than five months ago that Charlie Rose lost both his PBS interview show and his job as anchor of "CBS This Morning."

    It came after The Washington Post reported complaints about his behavior toward women at the PBS program.

    Today, The Post reports that the incidents of Rose's sexual misconduct were far more numerous than previously reported, and that CBS managers were told about them as early 1986.

    Late today, CBS News told its employees it had hired a law firm to investigate the allegations in the Post report.

    We're joined by one of the reporters who wrote both stories, Amy Brittain, who is on The Washington Post's investigative team.

    Amy, thanks for being with us.

  • Amy Brittain:

    Of course. Thank you for having me.

  • John Yang:

    When you say that — your story says that this was more pervasive, more widespread, the complaints you found.

    How widespread are we talking?

  • Amy Brittain:

    Well, we have 27 new allegations against Charlie Rose, and they span 42 years ago. The oldest allegation is from 1976, and the most recent is from 2017.

  • John Yang:

    We say sexual misconduct. It is sort of a fuzzy term. What are we talking about?

  • Amy Brittain:

    Well, there's a range of behavior that is included in that total.

    I would say some of the most serious incidents involve, in one case, exposure of his genitals to a woman who was working, in fact, in the NBC News Washington bureau, in the research library, in 1976.

    Some of this behavior later involved pulling women into his lap, making lewd sexual remarks, late-night sexual phone calls, asking them about their sex lives, groping them in some cases.

  • John Yang:

    And, originally, CBS News had said that they knew nothing about this, before your story in November. But you found instances where CBS managers had been told about this.

  • Amy Brittain:

    Right.

    So, after our first story, we were kind of flooded with tips and voice-mails and people reaching out, saying that we had just kind of hit the tip of the iceberg with our first story, that this, in fact, had been going on at CBS and that people knew about it.

    So, my co-reporter, Irin, and I set out to find out, well, what did they know and when did they find out?

  • John Yang:

    And what did you find?

  • Amy Brittain:

    Well, we found that the earliest instance of somebody reporting this to a manager was in 1986, when Charlie was making lewd sexual remarks to a young news clerk.

    She told a manager at the time, and he kind of laughed it off and said, OK, well, you don't have to be alone with him.

    As Charlie career progressed at CBS, his star continued to rise. He became kind of a franchise player for CBS News, on "60 Minutes," on "CBS This Morning."

    And some of these recent incidents involved women going to executive producers at "CBS This Morning," where he was a co-anchor. In one case, he had forcibly kissed a "CBS This Morning" employee. In another instance, a young woman went to the manager saying: You know what? I'm uncomfortable about Charlie's attention toward another young woman on the show. Something doesn't feel right about this.

    He was taking her out to lunches outside of the office.

  • John Yang:

    And what was the CBS News policy about managers finding out, being told these things, and about whether they should report it up?

  • Amy Brittain:

    Right.

    So, I want to be clear that, to the best of our knowledge, there are no known cases of actual human resources complaints against Charlie Rose. So, none of these incidents of people raising concerns actually made their way into human resources complaints.

    In no instances are we aware of that — are we aware of any of these managers actually elevating the concerns above their heads.

  • John Yang:

    And should they have — under the CBS News policies, should they have?

  • Amy Brittain:

    Well, I think the case of the employee who was forcibly kissed is an interesting case, because when she went to her manager, the executive producer of "CBS This Morning," this woman asked him not to elevate it to H.R. And he didn't.

    He has told us that he spoke to Charlie. He has not told us what he told Charlie. But now CBS said that they have changed that policy and they have made it a requirement for managers to immediately report instances of sexual harassment to human resources.

  • John Yang:

    So, this has changed since these incidents?

  • Amy Brittain:

    They actually changed in 2016. It's unclear what prompted that change or if they realized that their policy was outdated. They haven't said exactly why they changed it.

  • John Yang:

    And some of the women you talked to are preparing to file a lawsuit? What can you tell us about that?

  • Amy Brittain:

    That is correct. We expect that the lawsuit could be filed by the end of the week.

    There are three young women. They are some of the most recent allegations that we have against Charlie. Two of these women worked at "CBS This Morning." One of them is the one who raised concerns to an executive producer about Charlie's attention toward one of the other young women.

    And one of these women went on to work for his show at "Charlie Rose."

    So, it will be an interesting case, because it's against both Charlie Rose, Inc., and CBS. And I think if it gets to the point of discovery or depositions being taken, there could be a lot more questions asked about what managers knew.

  • John Yang:

    And what is CBS saying about what the managers knew? How did they respond to The Post when you presented them with your reporting?

  • Amy Brittain:

    Well, CBS News president David Rhodes said recently in a public forum, in a very broad statement, he said, we had no knowledge.

    And that's kind of a sweeping statement. At least, it sounds sweeping to me. And I think our reporting shows that there was knowledge. We're not saying that every person knew. But, certainly, some people knew. And I think the question is, how pervasive was it? How widespread was it? How much collective knowledge was there at CBS?

  • John Yang:

    You even cite a manager who tried to talk someone out of taking a job with Rose at CBS.

  • Amy Brittain:

    Yes. That is correct.

    There was instance that happened in the late 1990s, when "60 Minutes II" was starting. A woman came in and interviewed for a position to be Charlie Rose's assistant. And a CBS News executive pulled this woman aside and said: I want you to think long and hard before you take this job. Do you really want to be alone with this man?

  • John Yang:

    Amy Brittain of The Washington Post, thanks so much.

  • Amy Brittain:

    Thank you.

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