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CBS Continues to Clear House: 60 Minutes Exec Producer Leaves Because of Threatening Text
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13 Sep 2018 02:31 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Jeff Fager (Image source: Screenshot)

 

 

CBS is continuing to clear house, leaving an impression that they just aren't going to put up with anyone, no matter your position at the network harassing or threatening fellow employees. First Les Moonves, former head of the network, left after multiple women accused him of sexual conduct, and now the executive producer of "60 Minutes," Jeff Fager, has been pushed out as well. 

Moonves was first accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women earlier this summer. Last week a half dozen women brought similar accusations. He was forced to resign on Sunday. It leaves more than just his position up in the air, as he's married to Julie Chen, the host of two CBS shows: "Big Brother" and "The Talk."

 

Fager, 63, started his career with CBS News in 1982 as a broadcast producer. He moved on to The CBS Evening News and other programs at CBS and became the executive producer of "60 Minutes" in 2004. For a few years he also served as the chairman of CBS News. 

Ronan Farrow, the same journalist who outed Harvey Weinstein and then Moonves as well, is becoming more known as a top journalist who helped spearhead the #MeToo movement, rather than actress Mia Farrow's son. His reporting led to Fager sending a threatening message that eventually led to his removal from "60 Minutes."

 

Farrow published articles in the New Yorker that reported Fager had been accused of inappropriately touching employees. The Washington Post also published that Fager himself had been the subject of abuse by a senior producer. 

After the initial Moonves article by Farrow earlier this summer, CBS contracted law firms to investigate the claims against Moonves. This turned up anonymous accounts form former CBS employees that Fager had inappropriately touched employees at company parties.

 

Farrow's second article that was published Sunday added the additional allegations against Moonves, accusing him of sexual assault, harassment, and intimidation. He turned up more as well, as a former intern told him Fager had groped her at a company party. "I really felt like this was one of the most sexist places I've ever worked," she told him. 

Just a few hours after the article was published, Mooves resigned. He is reportedly receiving a large settlement, with CBS reporting that they will be making a $20 million donation that will be skimmed from his severance. It will be made "to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace."

 

After Fager's name turned up in Farrow's newest article regarding the Moonves allegations, CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan reached out to him for a comment.  

On a CBS News broadcast Wednesday night, Duncan read aloud Fager's text back to her. "If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up, you will be held responsible for harming me," he wrote.

 

"Be careful," he continued. "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." 

Ironically, it wasn't the allegations of sexual misconduct that cost Fager his longheld job; it was his threatening message to Duncan.

 

"This action today is not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently," wrote CBS News President David Rhodes in a memo regarding Fager's removal. "However, he violated company policy, and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level." 

Fager also responded that he was fired because of his text message. "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," he said, noting that "one such note should not result in termination after 36 years, but it did."

 

After Duncan read the text on air, anchor Jeff Glor told her, "You have been on this since the beginning. You have done great work. It's difficult enough without dealing with this. That message was unacceptable. I think it's important for you to know ...  that the entire team at Evening News supports you 100%." 

Late last year, at the height of the #MeToo accusations in Hollywood, CBS News removed Charlie Rose from "CBS This Morning" and "60 Minutes" after allegations of sexual misconduct. This means the network has lost chairman, a longtime executive producer, and a longtime journalist because of #MeToo allegations and their aftermath.

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