Seventeen years ago, the DeWitt Wallace Center honored TV host Charlie Rose with the Futrell Award, which is given annually to recognize an outstanding Duke graduate working in journalism. The award was endowed by the family of Ashley B. Futrell Sr., the editor and publisher of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Daily News in Washington, North Carolina. When Rose, a highly regarded interviewer, accepted the award in September 2000, the Duke Chronicle wrote that it was given to people who have “exemplified the spirit of journalistic integrity and achievement.”
Two weeks ago, the Washington Post published an article that said eight women have reported being sexually harassed by Rose, who hosted a show on PBS and co-hosted “CBS This Morning.” The women provided graphic details of how Rose had made sexual advances toward them. Rose was fired by CBS and PBS.
Today, we are taking the unprecedented step of rescinding our award to Charlie Rose. 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.
Rose, who met with our journalism graduates when he visited Duke last year, was famous for his thoughtful questions and his gentlemanly approach. But 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. 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.
Indeed, the recent revelations about Rose and other media figures are disturbing signs about sexual harassment in the industry. Rescinding Rose’s Futrell Award is one way we can make clear that this conduct is not acceptable in any way. We do this as much in sadness as anger given his long relationship with the university.
In our hallway is a plaque with the names of our Futrell Award honorees. They are Duke graduates who have been tremendous role models for our students because of their exceptional work and because they exemplify journalistic integrity. Charlie Rose will no longer be among them.
Director, DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy
December 4, 2017