The opening of CBS This Morning was devoted to the exit of Les Moonves, with anchor Norah O’Donnell recalling her comments with Gayle King last November about former co-host Charlie Rose.
The longtime CBS mogul stepped down yesterday, capping a stunning fall from the top echelon of the media business. In its daily “Eye Opener” segment, the network reported that Moonves’ deal to walk away from the company with $80 million in stock is on hold pending the outcome of two ongoing investigations into his conduct.
With King off for the day, O’Donnell then delivered comments that came across as unscripted. (See video above and below.)
“This is really hard. It is. It’s hard for everybody at CBS News,” O’Donnell said.
“The most powerful media executive in America has now resigned because of the #MeToo movement and he’s my boss. Or he was my boss. So that makes it really hard to comment on it.
“Leslie has always treated me fairly and with respect. Still, for me it was another sleepless night thinking of the pain these women feel. The courage that it takes for women to come forward and talk about this. And I really didn’t know what I was going to say this morning. I knew I needed to say something. Gail and I have talked and texted. And I said, ‘Gayle, I’m kind of looking back to November, when we dealt with accusations against our former co-host. And we said, ‘Yes, but I didn’t think we’d still be the story in September.’ And 10 months later, we’re still talking about this.
But here’s what I said back then and I think it still holds and I want to say it again. There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It’s systematic and it is pervasive in our culture. And this I know is true, to the core of my being: Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or in society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility.
“So, I am really proud to work here at CBS News. This has hurt morale but there are some really good people who come to work every single day. As a journalist, I am confident that the truth is going to come out. There are two prominent investigations going on with really good lawyers. This has to end. The story will continue.”
John Dickerson then said, “I was talking to somebody this weekend who I am close to, who had this happen to them 30 years ago. It still stays with her. Not only the feeling in the moment but the powerlessness afterward. And so, I couldn’t agree more with what you said.”
Here’s the video:
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