Cronkite is rescinding Charlie Rose's Excellence in Journalism award

The school's ad hoc committee came to a final decision Friday

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is rescinding Charlie Rose’s 2015 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism following sexual assault allegations against the longtime television anchor. 

This is the first instance of the award being revoked from a recipient since it was first created over 30 years ago.

The dean of the Cronkite school, Christopher Callahan, announced the decision via email on Nov. 24, writing that it was reached with input from Cronkite students, alumni, faculty, the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees and more.

“This unprecedented action is taken with the utmost seriousness and deliberation,” Callahan wrote in the email. “We are not in the business of trying to rewrite history.” 

He wrote that, though he heard many opinions on the issue, the decision to rescind the award was ultimately his own. 

Callahan said in the email that the award is meant as a lifetime achievement and Rose’s actions of sexual misconduct hold enough severity to revoke his award.  

“The damage caused by Mr. Rose’s actions extends far beyond the news organizations for which he worked,” Callahan wrote. “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.”

Eight women accused Rose of sexual harassment, according to The Washington Post. The accusations against him included “lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.”

The women involved were employees or aspiring to work for Rose and his show, according to The Washington Post.

PBS and CBS on Nov. 21 both publicly announced termination of their relationships with Rose.

Rose, a prominent figure in the journalism field, received the award in 2015 to commemorate over 40 years of experience with 60 Minutes, PBS and CBS.

Arizona PBS, one of the largest public television stations in the country, is also part of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and "is the largest media organization operated by a journalism school in the world," according to the school’s website.

The dean's decision came after the Cronkite School formed a committee to address the issue on Tuesday, which Callahan announced in an email to the student body. The committee was made up of faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and members of the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees.

Callahan also addressed the school’s connection to PBS in the email on Nov. 21. 

“The leadership of the Cronkite School and Arizona PBS met immediately after reading the Post report yesterday to ensure the PBS show would no longer appear on our Arizona PBS airwaves and to properly message that decision to our viewers,” he said in the email. 

Every fall, the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees selects a notable figure in journalism to receive the prestigious award.

The senior associate dean of the Cronkite School, Kristin Gilger, said Monday the school was "disturbed" by the situation.

“We’re very disturbed by what we’ve heard and he is off PBS – and that takes effect immediately,” Gilger said. “… And we’re going to be looking at and evaluating more information as it comes in.”

Editor's note: The State Press Editorial Board published an editorial on Nov. 21 calling for the revocation of the Cronkite Award from Charlie Rose. The opinions reflected in that column do not reflect those of the reporters involved in the production of this story. 


Reach the reporter at Kimberly.Rapanut@asu or follow @kimrapanut on Twitter.

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