After CBS fires Charlie Rose, what’s next for its popular morning show?
CBS dismissed Rose less than 24 hours after the Washington Post published a report detailing the account of eight women who worked at PBS, alleging that Rose subjected them to unwanted sexual advances, appeared nude in their presence or groped them. On Tuesday, three additional women reported incidents at CBS News. One woman said Rose whispered a sexual innuendo in her ear while touching her inappropriately during a company event, the network reported on its evening news program.
CBS News President David Rhodes’ decisive — and rapid — action reflects heightened responsiveness from companies as more women come forward with allegations against prominent media and entertainment industry figures in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
“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. We need to be such a place,” Rhodes said in a memo to employees announcing Rose’s departure.
PBS and Bloomberg also said they would no longer carry Rose’s nightly talk show.
Rose made no statements Tuesday after the firing but issued an apology Monday on Twitter.
“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,” he said. “I always felt that I pursued shared feelings though I now realize that I was mistaken.”
For CBS, jettisoning its star host thrusts the morning program into an uncertain future in its competition with ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today.”
Since Rose joined “CBS This Morning” with co-anchors Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, the network has enjoyed steady ratings growth in the morning, turning the program into a significant profit center for CBS News after decades of futility in the time slot.
Before the Rose-led trio arrived, CBS averaged 2.44 million viewers in the morning during the 2011-12 TV season, according to Nielsen. By 2016-17, 3.56 million viewers were tuning in. That growth has come even as its network rivals lost viewers — some of it to “CBS This Morning” and some to increasing competition from morning shows on cable news channels.
ABC’s “Good Morning America” is the ratings leader with 4.4 million viewers but lost nearly 1 million over that period. NBC’s “Today” has 4.26 million viewers, down from 5 million in the 2011-12 TV season.
Jonathan Klein, a former executive for CBS News and CNN, said Rose provided the first real solution to CBS’ longtime inability to master morning television, which has been largely dominated by NBC and ABC for decades. Replacing the stature he provided won’t be easy.
“Charlie Rose filled a huge hole for CBS News,” Klein said. “He embodied their rebooted brand, providing weight, experience, intelligence and trust, not to mention the world’s best Rolodex. He not only could get anyone in front of the camera but he was a master of the interview once he got it. Now that hole is back and it’s a gaping one. ”
The show was bringing in money too — racking up $106 million in ad revenue through September, up 14% over the same period last year, according to Standard Media Index. That’s a faster pace than “Today,” up 4% to $334 million, and “Good Morning America” which is holding even at $276 million.