The DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy at Duke University announced Monday that it was rescinding an award honoring prominent journalist Charlie Rose given in September 2000. Duke is the latest in a growing number of universities revoking honors from Rose, who has been accused of sexually harassing eight women over the course of his career.
The Futrell Award for Outstanding Achievement in Communications and Journalism is given annually to recognize outstanding Duke graduates working in journalism, according to a statement released by Bill Adair, director of the DeWitt Wallace Center.
“I have consulted with students, faculty and staff and found an overwhelming consensus that we should take this action and emphasize that the DeWitt Wallace Center does not tolerate sexual harassment in any form,” he wrote.
A Washington Post article published Nov. 20 detailed Rose’s history of making unwanted sexual advances toward eight women, all employees or aspiring employees, over the course of his career. Rose hosted the “Charlie Rose" show, co-hosted “CBS This Morning” and contributed reporting to “60 Minutes.” He was fired from CBS News on Nov. 21 as a direct result of his harassment.
“The thoroughly reported Post story, which Rose himself has substantially confirmed with his apology, makes clear that he used his status to prey on women who worked for him,” Adair said. “The Post story is a reminder about the important role that journalists play in holding people in power accountable — including people in their own industry.”
Rose’s name will be removed from a plaque honoring Futrell Award winners in a hallway of the DeWitt Wallace Center.
The news of Duke revoking Rose’s award arrived while the School of Media and Journalism at UNC is considering removing Rose from the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame. Rose was inducted in 1999.
Kyle York, the director of communications for the UNC School of Media and Journalism, wrote in an emailed statement that the school is currently deciding what to do about Rose’s position in the Hall of Fame.
“This is an unprecedented incident for the N.C. Media and Journalism Hall of Fame,” he said. “The revelations involving Charlie Rose are disturbing, and we take them very seriously. Because of the seriousness of the matter, we need to be thoughtful and deliberative about the actions we take with regard to Charlie Rose and the Hall of Fame.”
Since news of Rose’s conduct broke, journalism schools nationwide have decided to rescind awards given to Rose. On Nov. 24, the William Allen White Foundation at the University of Kansas revoked the William Allen Foundation National Citation Award presented to Rose last spring. The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University decided the same day to rescind the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism given to Rose in 2015.
Christopher Callahan, dean of the Walter Cronkite School at ASU, sent a statement to the school detailing the decision to rescind the award.
“This unprecedented action is taken with the utmost seriousness and deliberation,” he said. “We are not in the business of trying to rewrite history.”
His statement explained that the award is bestowed yearly as a lifetime achievement award for outstanding journalists. It celebrates the school, alumni and students as well as the profession of journalism. The awards are based on the knowledge the committee has of the award candidate at the time, but when new information resurfaces, the committee must decide whether the information is so egregious, it demands a “reversal of history.”
“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 Walter, the school and the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees more than 30 years ago,” Callahan said.
The statement also said that while the Cronkite School understands the action of revoking Rose’s award is largely symbolic, rescinding the award sends a necessary message to students past, present and future and to all of journalism.
“The actions victimized young women much like those who make up the overwhelming majority of Cronkite students — young women who deserve 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,” he wrote.
Alyson Culin, the executive director of the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, said in a statement that she thinks it is not only important to hold prominent people and people in positions of power accountable for their behavior, but also to change the broader culture around harassment and assault.
“Accountability can take different forms, but the common thread is that we should demand consequences for perpetrators and show support and respect for survivors who speak out,” she said.
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