Scrooged: Over at Liberal PBS, Charlie Rose Gets Pinched for Not Paying the Interns

Why would a liberal PBS star, producing a show in liberal New York City, try to get away with not paying the interns? The New York Times reports "Charlie Rose and his production company have agreed to pay as much as $250,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by a former unpaid intern who claimed minimum-wage violations."

Of course, Rose (now the co-host of CBS This Morning) isn't admitting any wrongdoing by settling. He ended up sounding like Ebenezer Scrooge:

A statement issued on behalf of Mr. Rose and his production company said, “our interns are not employees; they did not perform ‘work’ for the program and none of them ever expected to be paid for their internship.”

What kind of silly statement is that? MRC is a capitalism-promoting nonprofit, a defender of the "super-rich," and we've been paying interns more than minimum wage for many years. Perhaps it's Charlie saying "Getting me a double latte is not 'work' -- it's pure joy to serve me."

Under the settlement announced on Thursday, Rose and his production company, Charlie Rose Inc., will pay back wages to a potential class of 189 interns going back six years. The settlement calls for many of the interns to receive about $1,100 each — $110 a week in back pay, up to a maximum of 10 weeks, about the length of a school semester. You have to love that the plaintiff is named "Bickerton" -- is this real?

The main plaintiff, Lucy Bickerton, said she was not paid when she worked 25 hours a week for the “Charlie Rose” show from June through August 2007. Ms. Bickerton said her responsibilities at the show, which appears on PBS stations, included providing background research for Mr. Rose about interview guests, putting together press packets, escorting guests through the studio and cleaning up the green room.

Ms. Bickerton said in an interview that the settlement was “a really important moment for this movement against unpaid internships.”

Rachel Bien, a lawyer for Bickerton, said, “We are very pleased with this settlement, and hope that many former interns will come forward to claim the amounts they are due for their work.” Naturally, the lawyers take a big cut: "The settlement also calls for $50,000 in fees for Ms. Bickerton’s lawyers."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis