Leslie Moonves was the headliner of Ronan Farrow’s latest exposé of sexual misconduct in Hollywood, but a considerable portion of the Pulitzer Prize winner’s latest report in The New Yorker focuses on allegations against CBS News and its former chair Jeff Fager. That includes 19 current and former employees who claimed that Fager, who division chair from 2011-15 and now executive producer of 60 Minutes, condoned harassment in the division.
“It’s top down, this culture of older men who have all this power and you are nothing,” one veteran producer told Farrow. “The company is shielding lots of bad behavior.”
60 Minutes, the news division’s flagship program, for which ousted Charlie Rose was a contributing correspondent, has been a focal point of allegations, some involving Fager himself.
Six former employees told Farrow that Fager would, when inebriated at company parties, touch employees in ways that made them uncomfortable or make in appropriate remarks. One producer said she left the show because of “a very toxic culture toward women.”
Others said Fager protected men accused of misconduct. In one incident, a senior producer named Vicki Gordon alleged that another senior producer, Michael Radutzky, threatened to throw furniture at her and twisted her arm behind her back, causing her to scream. Radutzky denied the allegations. Fager said he would address the matter with Radutzky directly but later asked Gordon to apologize to Radutzky, in order to mitigate conflict in the office, Farrow reported.
“It was common knowledge at 60 Minutes that Michael Radutzky was an out-of-control guy, especially but not exclusively toward women,” David Gelber, a former producer, told Farrow. “We all saw it, almost on a daily basis. And yet Fager not only tolerated him — he elevated him to a position of leadership, even after Fager knew perfectly well how abusive he was.”
Sophie Gayter, a 60 Minutes employee who alleged in a Washington Post report last year that Rose had groped her, told Farrow that Fager “enabled the other men on the floor to do whatever the heck they wanted.” Fager, one network executive said, “would let people know he communicated with Les directly,” adding that “people took that to mean Les supported him completely.”
Katie Couric was an anchor at the network and contributing correspondent for 60 Minutes from 2006-11, when Fager helped force her out. She described CBS News to Farrow as being “like a boys club, where a number of talented women seemed to be marginalized and undervalued.”
In a statement, Fager noted that a “majority” of the senior staff are women, telling Farrow, “It is wrong that our culture can be falsely defined by a few people with an ax to grind who are using an important movement as a weapon to get even, and not by the hundreds of women and men that have thrived, both personally and professionally, at 60 Minutes.”
And Lesley Stahl, a 60 Minutes correspondent since 1991, told Farrow for his report, “This notion that 60 Minutes is an unpleasant, unwelcoming place for women isn’t true.”
“In my own experience, Jeff is supportive of women and decent to women,” she elaborated.
Anderson Cooper, who has been a correspondent for the show since 2006, told Farrow he had never seen Fager in any inappropriate behavior, while admitting he only works there part time.
Gayter and another junior female employee told Farrow their bosses asked them to complete the company’s mandatory sexual-harassment online training programs for them.
A former journalist at 60 Minutes named Habiba Nosheen told Farrow she had complained to management that Ira Rosen, a producer on the program, had subjected her to numerous sexual comments and suggested she flirt with sources. Two other women reported similar experiences with Rosen to Farrow. In a statement, Rosen said, “CBS extensively investigated these complaints and found them to be false, misleading, and unsubstantiated.”
In response to queries, CBS News sent a statement to Deadline from CBS Chief Compliance Officer which included this:
CBS previously retained attorney Betsy Plevan of Proskauer Rose to conduct an independent investigation of alleged misconduct at CBS News. Ms. Plevan’s work is ongoing, and includes investigating allegations in this story. CBS has taken the allegations reported in the press seriously, and respects the role of the press in pursuing the truth, which is a role that is central to the mission of CBS News.
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