The Dispatch: More from CWR...

The precipitous fall of Charlie Rose

The longtime CBS anchor critical of Cardinal George Pell ends up being fired for his own sexual misconduct.

Charlie Rose, interviewer and host of "The Charlie Rose Show" on PBS, speaks at the 25th Annual American Cardinals Dinner in 2014 in New York. (CNS photo/Edmund Pfueller, Catholic University of America)

In September, when reporting for CWR on problems with The Boston Globe’s coverage of the Church’s clerical sexual abuse scandals, this time involving the fathering of children by priests, I took note of comments Charlie Rose made to the Globe’s Michael Rezendes regarding Cardinal George Pell of Australia.

At the time, Rose was one of the most prominent secular journalists in the country, given his co-anchoring of “CBS This Morning,” reporting for “60 Minutes,” and hosting “The Charlie Rose Show,” an interview program then carried by 94 percent of PBS member stations.

Toward of the end of Rezendes’ presentation, the pair had this exchange (5:03ff.):

Rose: All of this is happening at the same time a cardinal is in Australia.

Rezendes: Yes.

Rose: Defending himself. Uh . . .

Rezendes: Yes, Cardinal Pell.

Rose: Exactly. A very powerful cardinal.

Rezendes (nodding in agreement): Cardinal Pell is the third-highest-ranking official at the Vatican. He has been criminally charged in Australia, as you said. And it’s a very, very significant development. I think it’s significant because after all these years of having to confront the problem, the Vatican has still not come up with a set of policies for dealing with the problem of clergy sexual abuse.

In my September CWR analysis, I refuted Rezendes erroneous claim regarding Vatican guidelines, noting universal norms the Church has historically issued encompassing clergy sexual abuse, as well as 2002 U.S. guidelines—approved by the Vatican—which Rezendes and his Globe colleagues had helped spur with their Pulitzer-Prize-winning coverage.

However, because of Rose and Rezendes’ brief and one-sided comments on Cardinal Pell, viewers were given the impression that the Cardinal was finally having to face clergy sexual abuse charges, whether regarding his negligent oversight as a bishop and/or misdeeds he may have personally committed. Never mind the pioneering sexual abuse reforms that Pell initiated as the Archbishop of Melbourne beginning in the mid-1990s. For these and other reasons, as both George Weigel and Carl Olson have noted in CWR, Pell has a number of enemies, including both secular and, sadly, within the Church.

Pell will have his day in court beginning in March 2018, and he has vehemently denied all charges against him.

Meanwhile, Rose will not be reporting on the Cardinal’s trial—at least not for CBS or PBS— and it’s because of his own sexual misbehavior. Late Monday afternoon November 20, The Washington Post reported that eight young women testified that Rose sexually harassed them, including groping their private areas, walking disrobed in their presence, and making lewd phone calls. In a statement given to the Post, Rose “deeply apologized for any inappropriate behavior,” yet his mea culpa was halfhearted: “I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.”

Within a couple of hours, CBS and PBS had suspended Rose, and Post reporter Amy Brittain tweeted that “sadly, my inbox is already flooded with women who have had similar, disturbing encounters with Charlie Rose.” Later that evening, I observed that “The Charlie Rose Show” was preempted by PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow.” By Tuesday morning, CBS and PBS had fired Rose.

Rose is the latest public figure to be negatively impacted since serious allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against filmmaker Harvey Weinstein last month. Those include Roy Moore, who remains the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate for Alabama, and former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who embarrassingly acknowledged groping women, with other allegations following. And many are now expressing that President Bill Clinton probably should’ve been pressured to resign for his own past sexual misbehavior, or impeached if he refused to resign.

While allegations against Weinstein opened the proverbial floodgates this fall, it was the firing of Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly last spring that prompted an Associated Press reporter to seek Rose’s reaction after a Time magazine gala. “All of the cases that raise the issue of sexual harassment, which is a terrible thing, [and] has probably been not exposed enough,” Rose said. “Not enough in the sense of the attention in the past, so that people were afraid to come forward. I think people are coming forward now.”

Rose’s words proved personally prophetic. We should pray for his conversion—and all other perpetrators—and the healing of all of their victims. Rose’s example and those of others are cautionary tales that prestige and power should be used for good, not wrongful personal pleasure. And that legal remedies are only part of the societal solution; they can never substitute for genuine virtue in restoring our cultural equilibrium.

Men in positions of authority over women should aspire to be father figures and/or true professional role models, including because women deserve nothing less. But the virtues of chastity and charity at their best require an interior life, a relationship with God, an understanding that there’s something much greater in this world than sinfully—and even criminally—satisfying one’s desires, and also having the power and peace to carry out that realization.

If men with authority began to do this more, then maybe many women will be inspired to expect more from the men with whom they actually give sexual consent. And that could go a long way toward renewing our culture.

About Thomas J. Nash 5 Articles

Thomas J. Nash is a Research Associate at Ave Maria Radio, a Contributing Apologist for Catholic Answers and a Contributing Blogger for the National Catholic Register. He is the author of What Did Jesus Do?: The Biblical Roots of the Catholic Church and The Biblical Roots of the Church. He has served the Catholic Church professionally for more than 30 years, including as a Theology Advisor for the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

8 Comments

  1. Rose is simply a small part of the MSM who are rabidly anti-Catholic and who see themselves as immune from exposure of their own gross behavior.
    That the Harvey Weinstein episode has finally opened the gates of abhorrent sexual behavior of the rich and famous to widespread credible accusations and even visible proof of truth is something we can all identify these charlatans for what they are.

  2. “Men in positions of authority over women should aspire to be father figures or true professional role models…the virtues of chastity and charity at their best require an interior life, a relationship with God…”

    Really? How about simply being decent guys? You have to be a Christian to keep your pants on at work? I hope not. “Chastity” is one thing, basic social decorum and decent behavior another. A guy walks around buck naked and it goes unreported. The women have a problem as well. Even if it is succumbing to fear or ambition over standards. Much of the hysteria is comical. Know one has seen a penis or a breast/ In *our* society? Know one knows how to respond to an unwanted advance. Wow. Come on.

  3. Rose misconduct pales in the light of our Misogynist-in-Chief who was caught bragging about his conquests on an Access Hollywood tape. Then denying it all with “locker room talk. In a blatant display of hypocrisy, a Catholic Cardinal along with some Little Sisters appeared in the rose garden to praise Trump for his reversal of the HHS mandate. We are sleeping with the Devil.

    • Perhaps. But those “Catholics” who wholeheartedly supported – and voted for, twice – Barack Hussein Obama for President, and those “Catholics” who wholeheartedly supported – and voted for, twice – William Jefferson Clinton for President, and those “Catholics” who supported – and voted for – Hillary Rodham Clinton for President (both in 2008 and in 2016) and those “Catholics” who vote for and support any candidate for office or officeholder who supports contraception and/or abortion and/or euthanasia and/or the perversion of the definition of marriage to include anything other than one man and one woman, forsaking all others, till death does them part, are TRULY sleeping with the devil. (E.g. Sister Carol Keehan, of the Catholic Hospital Association, who was a strong and vocal supporter of “Obamacare” – which led to the infamous and illegal and immoral “mandate” issued by HHS Secretary (and Catholic in name only) Kathleen Sebelius (who, lest we forget, was barred from receiving Holy Communion in her home state of Kansas while Governor of that state because of her blatantly public pro-abortion stances).)

      Yes, abortion, contraception, and euthanasia ARE the truly non-negotiable pro-life issues for all loyal, faithful, orthodox, orthoprax Catholics. Hold the thought……

  4. “Men in positions of authority over women should aspire to be father figures and/or true professional role models, including because women deserve nothing less.”

    No, they should just aspire to be good authority figures. At the same time, “professions” need to be cleared of women as much as possible.

  5. Thou shall not cover up should be the 11th Commandment. The Catholic Church should follow our illustrious president by exercising “extreme vetting” for candidates for the priesthood. It should be evident by now that not all priests are made the same. And, not all can follow the unnatural rule of celibacy.

    We love Francis, but how can he accept the elevated presence of Bernard Law in the Vatican? That is not “cleaning house”.

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