The "CBS This Morning" co-host weighs in on Colbert's jokes about Rose and the rejection of sexual harassment and misconduct sweeping the nation.
Gayle King nearly cancelled her appearance on "The Late Show" Tuesday night, still visibly shaken by the sexual harassment allegations levied against her long-time "CBS This Morning," co-host Charlie Rose, who was fired earlier that day.
She admitted to host Stephen Colbert that she struggled a bit with jokes against Rose in his monologue, and he certainly wasn't the only late-night host to take jabs at the disgraced newsman. Still, she understood that just as it is her job to report the news, it is Colbert's job to spoof those same stories.
Her appearance had been booked weeks in advance, but on a lighter topic: Oprah's Favorite Things. And while they did get to that segment, what happened first was a powerful and sobering discussion about the ongoing sexual harassment scandal that is rocking Hollywood, Capitol Hill, and even the news desk right next to King.
Sitting on the front line, reporting these stories for CBS since the allegations against Harvey Weinstein opened the floodgates, and then having it hit so close to home, King was left feeling "raw," but also empowered and optimistic for the future. Following are five powerful takeaways from their candid and frank discussion.
Anger And Feeling Raw
Covering these stories is hard on any level, but when it hits you in your home, it's even harder. Both King and her "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell addressed the Rose scandal head-on during their show Tuesday morning. At that time, Rose had been suspended, but not yet fired, by the network.
Hours later, sitting with Colbert, King said, "It still isn't easy. When asked if she was angry, King said, "I'm a variety of emotions. There's certainly some anger ... [but] I can't really say I'm one thing. I tell you what I am is raw."
She went on to say "raw" was a word used by others in a company meeting she'd attended that afternoon. But while feelings of rawness and shock are the initial response, it is what happens next that matters most
Companies Need to Step Up
One of the keys to affecting change is for companies to step up, according to King. "If anything changes in this, what I do hope is that people will speak up, that companies are sending a message that we have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior," she said.
She also believes change will come as more women rise to positions of power. But there's still more to be done now.
Women Feel Empowered
While Colbert worried about a possible backslide on this issue, as has happened before with countless other important issues, King doesn't think that will happen because something fundamental has changed within women in this.
"Women feel empowered to speak up, women are no longer afraid to speak up," King said. "The best part about it is, they are now being believed."
But they can't do it alone.
Men Must Join the Conversation
"It has to be more than a bunch of women talking about this. We really do need men to join this conversation," King said.
When Colbert asked how men could do that, other than listening and believing the women in their lives who have the courage to speak out, King said they need to "say this is not gonna be tolerated, this is not cool, knock it off."
They need to accept that when it comes to unwanted sexual advances or harassment, "no degree is okay." And she doesn't buy these stories that they didn't know when they crossed the line.
We Know the Right Balance
"I want to be able to joke and laugh with friends without thinking I'm going to be called into human resources," she admitted. "But we all know the difference what that is. We do."
Late Night Responds
King may have winced at some of Colbert's barbs against her former co-host, but he wasn't the only one throwing jabs at Rose. Seth Meyers dug into Rose both in his "Late Night" monologue, and then in an extended segment later in the show during which he called for a retirement of the bathrobe.
One of the accusations levied against Rose is that he would appear in front of women in an open bathrobe. "Here's a good rule of thumb," Meyers said. "If your face isn't pulling in the babes, your penis isn't going to make the difference."
Over at "The Tonight Show," Jimmy Fallon also spoke briefly about Rose's alleged penchant for nudity in his monologue, quipping that CBS fired him by telling him to "clear out his desk, put on some pants and leave."
Colbert latched onto a description used in the allegations that Rose would give women unsolicited shoulder massages, with his hand being dubbed "the crusty paw." Said Colbert, "You may make three wishes on the accursed paw, all of which are to not get a backrub from Charlie Rose."
For more jokes on the subject, watch the late-night responses in their entirety below: