The Washington Post had published an article in which eight women said Mr. Rose made unwanted sexual advances, and he was fired the next day. On air, after Ms. O’Donnell delivered a forceful statement, a shaky Ms. King said that she was still reeling. “Oprah called me and said, ‘Are you O.K.?’ I am not O.K.,” Ms. King said. She commended the women who came forward, adding, “What do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something that is so horrible?”
Ms. Winfrey told me she watched that morning’s broadcast from her home in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was on the edge of her sofa, saying, “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” to will her friend not to cry. “Norah was up there kicking ass, for women and #MeToo,” Ms. Winfrey said. “And Gayle was like” — she put on the voice of a sad Southern belle — “‘Oh, my daddy died. Oh lordy, my daddy died.’”
Ms. Winfrey returned to her normal tone. “I said, ‘Girl, pull it together!’”
‘Hallelujah,’ Typed Mr. Rose
By the time I contacted Ms. King to get a meal and talk about her career and #MeToo and how, at 63 years old, she is no longer just known as Ms. Winfrey’s bestie, people had started to stop her on the street to offer condolences, like somebody had died.
There was the time at the U.S. Open. “Somebody came up to me and touched my arm and said, ‘Oh, are you O.K. with all that’s happened at CBS?’ with the dog head like that,” Ms. King said, tilting her head like a cocker spaniel.
Ms. King has chided CBS and called for full transparency in its investigation into Mr. Moonves. She has said emphatically that she supports and believes his and Mr. Rose’s accusers. But Ms. King also believes that “you can hold two ideas in your head at the same time.” That is, you can believe and empathize with the women, but also think that not all men accused of wrongdoing should be banished for life.
I asked Ms. King if redemption was possible for some of the #MeToo men. “Amy, murderers are walking around,” Ms. King said flatly. “People who kill people are walking around. They might not be able to get [their] jobs back, but surely there must be room for some redemption somewhere.” She paused. “I don’t know what the answer is to that, and it might be too soon. Maybe people don’t want to hear that.”
She knows that in our era of acute sensitivity, this seemingly tepid sentiment has gotten other public figures skewered. Matt Damon faced days of backlash when he called the climate around #MeToo a “culture of outrage” and said not all alleged wrongdoing was equal. “They took his head off, and I actually agree with what he was saying,” Ms. King said. “That doesn’t mean I’m discounting what the women are saying. I’m just saying we can’t paint everybody with the same brush.”