PHOENIX - Calling the behavior “unacceptable,’’ the journalism school at Arizona State University took the unprecedented move Friday of revoking the lifetime achievement award it gave just two years ago to Charlie Rose.
“The damage cause by Mr. Rose’s actions extends far behind the news organizations for which he worked,’’ Dean Christopher Callahan of the Cronkite School said in a prepared statement following allegations in the past week that the TV personality had sexually harassed multiple women. Rose said while he disagrees with some of the specifics he “behaved insensitively at times.’’
Callahan acknowledged that the award was given based on “the knowledge we have of a recipient at that time.’’ But he said the “transgressions are so egregious that they demand nothing less than a reversal of history.’’
“The actions victimized young women much like those who make up the overwhelming majority of Cronkite students -- young women who desire to enter workplaces that reward them for their hard work, intelligence and creativity and where they do not have to fear for their safety or dignity,’’ Callahan said.
“In rescinding this award, we hope to send an unequivocal message that what Mr. Rose did is unacceptable, and that such behavior -- far too common in not just media companies but in many organizations -- must stop.’’
Callahan said it was not an easy decision to rescind the award.
“It is a lifetime achievement award,’’ he said, with no term limits.
“It is given in perpetuity,’’ Callahan continued. “The idea of ‘taking back’ a Cronkite Award is so foreign that the possibility was never even considered when the award was first created by Walkter, the school and the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees more than 30 years ago.’’
Callahan said he solicited input from students, alumni, staff, news industry leaders and from the board of trustees.
“Conversations with students and young alumni were particularly powerful,’’ he said. And he said the board voted unanimously earlier Friday to rescind the award.
But the dean said he made the final call.
“While many voices were heard in discussions throughout the week, this is a decision by the dean,’’ he said. “And therefore any criticism of the decision, or the decision-making process, should be directly exclusively toward me.’’
The move comes just days after CBS News President David Rhodes fired Rose from his role on CBS This Morning and as a correspondent for 60 Mintes for what Rhodes said was his “extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior’’ toward women who worked on his long-running interview show on PBS. That followed reports by the The Washington Post that several women reported Rose had groped them, made lewd phone calls and even walked around naked in front of them,
Three women at CBS itself also subsequently came forward with their own allegations.
PBS itself later cut any ties to Rose and will no longer air his show.
In his only statement on the issues, Rose pronounced himself “greatly embarrassed.’’
“I have been insensitive at times, and I accept responsibility for that,’’ he said. “I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.’’
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