A lot of top media names have been getting hammered by accusations of sexual harassment or inappropriate workplace communication. Some have lost jobs. Some have been suspended, and at least one – Chris Hardwick – has been cleared and reinstated. However, one major media “face” is firing back at his accusers long after being fired.
CBS and PBS journalist Charlie Rose says the three women who are accusing him of sexual harassment are just trying to “spin” what he described as “routine workplace interactions and banter” into something far worse and more sinister. His attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, along with CBS, which is trying to get the case thrown out of court.
Rose has already been fired by both CBS and PBS for sexual misconduct, which clouds any version of events he may wish to offer in this situation. Still he insists that the complaints made by the women are “meaningless” and do not establish harassment in any way.
However, Rose’s accusers are not backing down either, accusing him of “blatant and repeated sexual harassment…” which, they say, included inquiring about their personal lives and discussing his own with them without their consent. And they are not alone. According to The Washington Post, 27 women have accused Rose of sexual harassment.
Rose’s message about the accusations pulls no punches. The former journalist says the lawsuit filed by the three women is just “bootstrapping the accusations of sexual harassment made by third parties… and none of the three plaintiffs alleges a cognizable claim of gender discrimination, harassment, or retaliation…” according to Rose’s countersuit.
Meanwhile, the women accuse Rose of unwanted physical contact, as well as conversation that made them feel uncomfortable.
The courts have yet to decide if the cases have any merit, but this case is also playing out in the court of public opinion. The strength of numbers is on the side of the accusers, as is the massive MeToo cultural movement, which assumes the stories of the accusers and the guilt of the men involved almost unilaterally.
Meanwhile, Rose has his word against theirs, and that is not a position of strength from which to begin a counter narrative. There’s not yet very much fatigue in the culture for these accusations, and not much of a reservoir of sympathy for any powerful man accused of these kinds of things. That reality does not establish guilt or innocence, or the veracity of any position. It’s just the foundation on which this situation will play out in the public. Any message coming out of either camp would be wise to keep that in mind.