When it came time for CBS This Morning to talk about CEO Leslie Moonves’ departure from the network following a series of sexual harassment and assault allegations on Monday morning, anchor Norah O’Donnell spoke directly and clearly about the “courage that it takes for women to come forward and talk about this.”
A few hours later, it was The Talk’s turn.
That CBS daytime talk show is co-hosted by Moonves’ wife, Julie Chen, but she was nowhere to be seen when it kicked off its ninth season on Monday. Last month, when the first set of allegations emerged, Chen briefly addressed the situation on air, saying she would stand by her husband “today, tomorrow, forever.” In a subsequent statement today, she said, “I am taking a few days off from The Talk to be with my family. I will be back soon and will see you Thursday night on Big Brother.”
That left it to her remaining co-hosts to at times awkwardly and at others emotionally discuss the ouster of their boss, who ran one of the country’s most successful television companies for more than two decades. “We're about to talk about something that affects everybody's lives here at CBS,” Sharon Osbourne began, adding, “I have never been nervous in my life, but I'm kind of very nervous right now” before letting clips from other morning shows do the heavy lifting of describing Moonves’ alleged misconduct.
“First of all, I want to say that whatever times I have had of hardship over the last eight years, Julie has always been there for me. She's been a friend. She is somebody who I admire and respect greatly. And it's very embarrassing and upsetting to have to talk about her husband, but we do. We feel it's right.” Osbourne said. She explained that she was previously “asked” to make a statement of support about “the most powerful man in TV” and was “as diplomatic as I could be with the statement that I made.”
That Twitter statement, which has now been deleted, read: “Interesting timing, seems like an attempt to discredit Leslie before a major court case. I hope people don’t rush to judgement and let @CBS conduct their investigation.”
“But now after seven more women have come out, the stories are so similar, the pattern is so similar that for me,” Osbourne said on Monday, “he's not been convicted of any crime, but obviously the man has a problem.” She also acknowledged that when a new CEO comes into a company like CBS, “We all know they sweep clean. Everybody here at CBS is nervous about their jobs. Yes, the ladies at this table will go on and we'll probably find another show if our show, please god, it's not taken off, we'll always find another job and nobody is, you know, in that position yet. It's just historically when somebody new comes in, things change.”
Co-host Sara Gilbert echoed Osbourne’s supportive message for Chen, adding, “This is an important time in our culture and just because this hits close to home, it doesn't change this story. All women's stories matter and these women's stories matter. You know, this is very serious and the appropriate actions need to take place. And so I am happy when women are heard because for a long time, they haven't been.”
“Why is it that when men get power, it goes to their testicles?” Osbourne asked later. “I do not know why, but it's true.”
On the verge of tears, Sheryl Underwood said, “The Julie Chen I know is very strong, a resilient woman. But I think this is a blessing from god to be unburdened from secrets and unchained from lies and that now is the time for everyone to look inside themselves and become better people and treat people the way they should be treated. And women should not feel that they have to carry secrets and burdens and lives destroyed.”
“Today we say, enough is enough,” she added to loud applause from the audience. “And today we say, we believe you. We hear you. Now is the time for you to go on with your life and hopefully somebody is going to ask you for forgiveness and somebody is going to say, I need to be a better person because god let your eyes open today. Do better with your life and never come back to this day ever again.”
“Woo, that was tough,” Osbourne said before going to a commercial break. When they returned they could not wait to start talking about Serena Williams.