Whoa: Eight women say Charlie Rose sexually harassed them

Eight is a big number. And WaPo really ate its Wheaties on sourcing it. Some women are identified by name, some aren’t, but every woman has friends or colleagues who spoke to the paper to corroborate that they heard their stories long ago. The real coup, though, is getting Rose’s former executive producer, Yvette Vega, on the record seemingly admitting that she knew Rose was up to no good. Actual quote: “I should have stood up for them,” she said of Rose’s accusers. “I failed. It is crushing. I deeply regret not helping them.”

It’s not inconceivable that several famous men will be credibly accused of harassment or assault in American newspapers every week for the next year. Remember, reporters haven’t even touched Congress yet.

If you had “Charlie Rose’s dong” in the pool of things America would be talking about at Thanksgiving this year, come collect your winnings.

Most of the women said Rose alternated between fury and flattery in his interactions with them. Five described Rose putting his hand on their legs, sometimes their upper thigh, in what they perceived as a test to gauge their reactions. Two said that while they were working for Rose at his residences or were traveling with him on business, he emerged from the shower and walked naked in front of them. One said he groped her buttocks at a staff party…

The young women who were hired by the show were sometimes known as “Charlie’s Angels,” two former employees said. Rose frequently gave unsolicited shoulder rubs to several of them, behavior referred to among employees as “the crusty paw,” a former employee said…

“Everybody is terrified of him,” said one of the women who said that Rose groped her when she was an intern. “He creates this environment of constant fear. And then he’ll shine a spotlight on you and make you feel amazing.”

If ever there was a story where the blog excerpt doesn’t do it justice, it’s this one. Read it all, as details are piled on top of details. It’s not all sexual either; some of it involves pure physical intimidation. One woman who worked for Rose recalls him grabbing a fistful of her hair to command her attention. A notably creepy detail:

“He most definitely said, on numerous occasions, ‘I’ve never forced you to do something you didn’t want to do,’ ” she said. “He would say this forcefully and wait for my confirmation after he said this. I remember once wondering if I was being recorded.”

Rose seems to know that WaPo has the goods too. Here’s his version of a limited hangout:

He’s behaved badly but he doesn’t “believe” all the allegations are true and besides he thought they wanted him to make a move. Bear in mind, one of the women quoted in the piece claims she was crying as he tried to put his hand down her pants.

When the story broke this afternoon I felt shocked that a guy who styles himself as highbrow and substantive by the standards of normal American television would stoop to this, but I’m embarrassed in hindsight to have had that thought. Of course “highbrow” men do it too. Just within the last month, TNR’s former literary editor, Leon Wieseltier, has been credibly accused of misconduct towards women employees at the magazine. How many famously talented intellectuals in various arts have proved to be perverts or predators of one form or the other? Often it feels like the truth is closer to “all of them” than “none of them.” And Rose’s behavior was, to borrow a now well-worn phrase, apparently an open secret. Not only did Vega know he was preying on women, others seemingly did too. One woman, then an intern for Rose who was invited to his home to catalog some things for him, said a male producer sent her a message before she got there encouraging her to leave immediately if Rose did anything “sketchy.”

His career is instantly in ruins, of course:

One woman alleges that when she told a friend about Rose’s behavior, it got back to him and he fired her, lecturing her “how he didn’t treat me like that,… how I got it wrong, and, obviously, I couldn’t work there anymore.” It sure is interesting how invested Rose seems to have been in some of these encounters in convincing his alleged victim — or himself — that either nothing happened between them or what did happen was consensual. A man who’s being innocuously flirty typically doesn’t need such assurances. Rose seems to have understood, however dimly, that he was crossing lines.

And there will be more:


Brittain co-authored today’s WaPo story. Two points in closing before you go read. One: The right has been attacking WaPo for its initial story about Roy Moore even though that was carefully reported too, alleging that it’s evidence of the paper’s liberal bias. Rose isn’t a Democratic Senate candidate but he’s an august member of America’s liberal media and they just nuked him but good too. Worth bearing in mind when weighing bias in future pieces. Two: What is with these dudes and exposing themselves? Two women interviewed by the paper claim that Rose appeared naked before them. Harvey Weinstein allegedly exposed himself to victims too, as did Louis CK. Why do these palpably not very attractive men want women to see their junk? The exhibitionist urge is either more common than we all thought or it’s some special idiosyncrasy of the powerful.

Exit question: When will it end? Exit answer: Not soon.

Update: An interesting catch from some Twitter pals: There’s a character in “The Royal Tenenbaums” who’s obviously based on Rose. In one scene Gwyneth Paltrow’s character gets felt up by him clandestinely backstage. Was that a coincidence or was Rose’s behavior so well known in media that it ended up as a sly joke in the script? Glynnis MacNicol notes that Paltrow hasn’t done Rose’s show in more than 20 years. Hmmmm.


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Jazz Shaw 8:31 AM on December 04, 2022