An exhausted-looking Gayle King told Stephen Colbert that she’d come “this close” to cancelling her appearance on Tuesday’s The Late Show, which makes sense. Originally booked weeks ago for a breezy segment about the yearly “Oprah’s Favorite Things” issue of O magazine (of which Oprah Winfrey best pal King is editor-at-large), the CBS This Morning co-host instead spent the first of her two segments talking with Colbert about their now ex-CBS colleague, Charlie Rose. “I wanted to cancel,” explained King, “I didn’t want to be here talking about this,” referring to the sexual harassment allegations against Rose, who was fired by CBS earlier in the day. (Rose’s venerable interview series, The Charlie Rose Show, has also been summarily dropped by PBS.)
Praised by Colbert for what he called the objective way that King and remaining CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell covered the Rose story on Tuesday, King explained that, like a lot of shellshocked people in the media, she and O’Donnell have had to balance the professional and the personal. “It was very painful, and very hurtful,” said King, explaining that, while she considers Rose her friend, “We still have to report the news.” Speaking of both her show’s approach to the story and to CBS’ immediate action in firing Rose in the wake of accusations from eight different women about now all-too-familiar unwanted sexual overtures from the formerly respected broadcaster, King touted the network to her CBS co-employee as “a top-notch broadcast organization,” adding, “That’s why it’s important to be here.”
Still, King admitted to conflicted feelings, both about Rose, and about Colbert’s opening monologue, which she found hard to laugh at while waiting to come out for her interview. Explaining that her own feelings about the Rose news are a swirl of “sadness, anger, compassion, and concern,” King said that Colbert’s typically unsparing jokes at Rose’s expense stung, to which Colbert replied, “You did your job this morning, I did my job tonight.” King, echoing the voices of a lot of women in what Colbert called this “hurricane season” of sexual harassment and assault revelations, lauded the women who’ve courageously come forward, and called this painful process a necessary step toward breaking the societal shroud of secrecy and silence around the issue. After Colbert asked if the now-daily disillusionment concerning sexual harassment in the worlds of entertainment, the media, politics, and every other workplace in the damned world will bring about permanent change, King was optimistic.
Talking about the empowerment women are experiencing in not only not being afraid to join the others reporting their abuse at the hands of men in positions of power, but also in being believed, King said that facing the truth, while wrenching and exhausting, “is big.” Sighing, “Are we really going to make the turn?” when Colbert said they’d move onto her originally planned rundown of Oprah-vetted fancy maple syrups and all-family onesie pajamas, King nonetheless seemed as relieved as Colbert to goof around about comforting luxuries at the end of a long, long day.