The Jeff Fager era at “60 Minutes” is over. NOW.
“Jeff Fager is leaving the company effective immediately,” CBS News president David Rhodes said Wednesday in a statement. “Bill Owens will manage the 60 Minutes team as Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews and I begin the search for a new executive producer of the program. 60 Minutes is the most significant news broadcast on television.”
The CBS exec is out in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, including some new ones reported on by Ronan Farrow in his latest piece for “The New Yorker” – the same article that triggered the resignation of CBS CEO Les Moonves and set off a succession scramble at the network.
However, Rhodes went out of his way to NOT attribute Fager’s departure to the Farrow story.
“This action today is not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently. However, he violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level. Joe Ianniello is in full support of this decision and the transition to come.”
What “company policy” was violated?
CBS correspondent Jericka Duncan has been reporting the ongoing revelations of widespread harassment by network executives, including the shocking recent ousting of network CEO Les Moonves, said Fager texted her after she asked him for a comment on the “New Yorker” article.
“If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up, you will be 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’s own characterization:.
“The company’s decision had nothing to do with the false allegations printed in The New Yorker. Instead, they terminated my contract early because I sent a text message to one of our own CBS reporters demanding that she be fair in covering the story. 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.”
There’s harsh and there’s threatening. It’s one thing to get it from an outside story subject. It’s another to get it from an executive higher up the food chain than you.
Even Jeff Glor, in covering the story on the “CBS Evening News,” declared Fager’s text unacceptable.