Early Thursday afternoon, a Pennsylvania jury consisting of seven men and five women found Bill Cosby guilty of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.
Minutes later, news cameras captured four women who were not Andrea Constand sobbing, leaning on a marble balcony, leaning on each other. Three of them—Caroline Heldman, Lili Bernard, and Victoria Valentino—were among Cosby’s 60-plus other accusers, finally seeing some form of justice befall a man society and time told them was untouchable.
The footage of Cosby’s victims crying with relief played as B-roll to almost every news story of the Cosby verdict. And as I watched the women embracing, over and over again, two thoughts occurred to me. First: I can’t imagine the bittersweet victory those women must feel. Second: Charlie Rose can go fuck himself.
Charlie Rose has been high on the “go fuck yourself” list for quite some time. Last fall, eight women accused the erstwhile newsman of exposing himself to them, making lewd calls, and groping. Back then, Rose’s public response oscillated between defensive and confused. He tried to explain his creepiness away by saying that he was under the impression that he was pursuing mutual feelings. From his 21-year-old assistant. (For just one day in my life, I’d love to live with the confidence of an unattractive male septuagenarian who is still convinced that 21-year-old women are interested in him romantically.) Like Cosby, Rose never seemed to grok the harm he caused.
Of course, not understanding something has never prevented a man of Rose’s overconfidence from plowing ahead anyway. The day before Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault, Page Six reported that Tina Brown had been approached about slapping her name on a new TV project wherein Charlie Rose sits down with other men who have been accused of sexaul misconduct. Brown says she turned it down.
It’s hard to imagine something that the world needs less than a project starring Charlie Rose in conversation with men who would be willing to sit down with Charlie Rose and talk about sexual harassment. A breed of dog that physically explodes, perhaps? A birth-control pill that guarantees 28 days of heavy menstruation per month? An extra hour of Fox & Friends?
I’m not opposed to the possibility that some men whose misdeeds were exposed by the first wave of #MeToo reporting might mount comebacks. It’s possible to make good art from a bad thing, art that acknowledges the harm that workplace-related sexual harassment has caused. Art that’s about rehabilitation, that helps other men be better, that helps society be better. It’s a tall order, but it’s possible.
But a show that might as well be called Charlie Rose Presents: If I Did It is fucking insulting. It’s insulting in its craven transparency; Rose obviously sees a market for a show that provides men a way to launder their consciences and their IMDB pages. Just sit down opposite Rose, act super sad for 45 minutes, and Voilà! Your career lives!
Coming back from well-reported accounts of sexual misconduct, the sort of misconduct that thwarts the careers of talented rising women, should not be easy. Facilitating that charade should not be itself a path.
That’s not to say men who conducted themselves like sexual creeps should forever remain silent. But if they’re going to speak up and I’m going to listen, it better be with some self-awareness and contrition. An interview series featuring the felled men of #MeToo could be interesting; Charlie Rose is the last person in the world who should be starring in it. Have Megyn Kelly do it. Have Oprah do it. Have a bot programmed to ask questions the way Jaden Smith tweets do it.
After Thursday’s guilty verdict was read, Bill Cosby called Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele an “asshole” in front of the court.
“We don’t think Mr. Cosby is guilty of anything, and the fight is not over,” Cosby’s shell-shocked attorney told gathered press outside of the courtroom. No matter how hard they fight, Bill Cosby is a broken old man who will probably never admit to doing what he has been found guilty of doing. He will die a photo negative of the good man lie he told America. He’ll never get it.
By trying to narrate his own comeback, Charlie Rose, it seems, will never get it, either. Rose should spend his time and energy on things that aren’t socially counterproductive while also being self-enriching. He should clean up trash alongside baking summer highways. He should take up knitting. He should keep his robe closed and his ears open.