Jeff Fager, the longtime executive producer of CBS’s venerable newsmagazine 60 Minutes, was forced out of his job on Wednesday, days after the abrupt departure of the company’s CEO Les Moonves, who faced a flurry of new sexual misconduct accusations. Fager, who has been the top producer at 60 Minutes for 36 years “is leaving the company effective immediately,” according to a memo sent to employees by CBS News David Rhodes. It turns out the violation was in the form of a threatening text message he sent to a CBS correspondent.
The network said through a spokesperson said that Fager “violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level.” The spokesperson did not indicate which company policy Fager is accused of violating, but his name had surfaced in recent reports by Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker on Moonves’ alleged misconduct. “Sarah Johansen, a producer who was an intern at CBS in the late aughts, said that he groped her at a work party,” Farrow wrote of Fager in his latest report on Moonves, which prompted the CEO’s abrupt resignation. At least five other current or former 60 Minutes employees accused him of touching them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. Fager, 63, has also been accused of tolerating a hostile work environment and turning a blind eye to harassment in the news division.
Fager has denied those accusations and said his departure from CBS News on Wednesday was not related to those accusations of misconduct, which the network is still investigating internally. In a statement provided to CNN, Fager said CBS terminated his contract early “because I sent a text message to one of our own CBS reporters demanding that she be fair in covering the story.” He added, “My language was harsh and, despite the fact that journalists receive harsh demands for fairness all the time, CBS did not like it. One such note should not result in termination after 36 years, but it did.” In a separate statement, Fager said, “The company’s decision had nothing to do with the false allegations printed in The New Yorker.”
But on the Wednesday edition of CBS Evening News, the reporter he sent the message to, correspondent Jericka Duncan spoke directly to viewers and revealed the content of the text message Fager sent her. “I am that reporter,” she told viewers. “I want to be transparent about it,” she said during the newscast. She went on to explain that on Sunday evening, she contacted Fager for a comment on Farrow’s latest report and the accusations of groping.
Duncan said he denied the accusations and then sent her the following text message: “If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up you will be held responsible for harming me … Be careful. There are people who lost their jobs trying to harm me and if you pass on these damaging claims without your own reporting to back them up that will become a serious problem.”
Fager becomes the third major network heavyweight to be ousted from CBS News in the last year, on the heels of Moonves earlier this week and CBS This Morning host and 60 Minutes correspondent Charlie Rose last November.
Below watch Duncan’s report on CBS Evening News.
Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the last name of CBS correspondent Jericka Duncan.