For the second time in less than a year, “CBS This Morning” host Norah O’Donnell addressed serial sexual misconduct allegations involving prominent men at her own network.
O’Donnell spoke publicly on Monday after longtime CBS head Les Moonves resigned Sunday following a spate of new claims against him, including sexual assault.
“This is really hard. This is hard for everybody at CBS News. I haven’t talked about this before, because when you think about it, the most powerful media executive in America has now resigned in the wake of this Me Too movement — and he’s my boss, or he was my boss,” she said at the beginning of the show, adding that Moonves “always treated me fairly and with respect.”
“So that makes it really hard to comment on it,” she added.
“For me, it has been another sleepless night thinking about this, the pain that 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,” she continued. “I know I needed to say something.”
Last November, O’Donnell and co-host Gayle King spoke candidly after CBS fired former co-host Charlie Rose, who also faced numerous sexual misconduct allegations. They said they were shocked by the news but supported the women who came forward.
“Charlie does not get a pass here,” King said. “I really applaud the women that speak up. I can’t stop thinking about the anguish of these women, what happened to their dignity, what happened to their bodies, what happened maybe to even their careers.”
“This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment about where we stand and more generally the safety of women,” O’Donnell said. “Let me be very clear. There is no excuse for this alleged behavior.”
On Monday, O’Donnell reiterated the comments she’d made about Rose in November.
“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 is systematic, and it is pervasive in our culture,” she said. “And this I know is true, to the core of my being: Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility. So I’m really proud to work here at CBS News. This has hurt morale, but there are some really, really good people that come to work every single day. As a journalist, I’m confident that the truth is going to come out.”
CBS has launched an independent investigation into Moonves, who has denied the allegations, reported by the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow. The network announced Sunday that he and the network will donate $20 million to the Me Too movement.
Moonves had originally been slated to receive an “exit package” of as much as $100 million in stock options, but the network scuttled the plan after Sunday’s bombshell New Yorker report.