UPDATED with Fager statement: CBS News chief David Rhodes issued a statement Wednesday announcing that Jeff Fager, longtime division exec and current executive producer of 60 Minutes, was stepping down “effective immediately.”
Fager is out in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, including a new one on Sunday that was detailed in Ronan Farrow’s piece in the New Yorker that brought down CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves earlier this week. This time, a former intern accused the newsmag chief/former CBS News chair of groping her at an office party.
Rhodes insisted in his statement that “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,’ Rhodes said, adding that Moonves’ interim CEO replacement Joe Ianniello “is in full support of this decision and the transition to come.”
Fager complained to CNN the network canned him because he demanded a female reporter “be fair” in covering a story.
The network, he said, “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,” Fager said.
CBS News did not appear to think much of Fager’s it’s-the-female-reporter’s-fault storyline, though it did include in its digital coverage of Fager’s ouster, though it ran with the headline:
Jeff Fager out as ’60 Minutes’ executive producer following harassment claims.
Rhodes said 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,” calling 60 Minutes “the most significant news broadcast on television.”
“We are fortunate to have incredibly talented journalists in place whom we know will continue to deliver our defining investigative work,” Rhodes continued.
Moonves exited CBS on Sunday after six more women accused him of sexual misconduct in a second report on the exec penned by Farrow, but the report also included a former intern who said she once stood next to Fager at a work party and felt his hand “on my ass,” adding, “the hand belonged to an arm which belonged to Jeff Fager.”
When Fager was a no-show at work Monday, most put their money on him being soon to go.
Back in July, Moonves was the headliner of Farrow’s first New Yorker exposé of sexual misconduct at CBS, but a considerable portion of the Pulitzer Prize winner’s report focused on allegations against Fager.
Nineteen current and former employees claimed Fager, division chair from 2011-2015 and 60 Minutes EP for the past 14 seasons, condoned harassment in the division.
Six former employees told Farrow that Fager would, when sauced at company parties, touch employees inappropriately, or make inappropriate remarks. One producer reported leaving to escape the “very toxic culture toward women.”
Fager also was accused of protecting men accused of misconduct.
“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 for his first piece. “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, the 60 Minutes employee who told the Washington Post report last year that Charlie Rose had groped her, told Farrow that Fager “enabled the other men on the floor to do whatever the heck they wanted.”
Fager joined CBS News in 1982, serving as EP of CBS Evening News With Dan Rather, and 60 Minutes II. He took over the newsmag mothership show a few years later. His contract extended into 2019.
In February 2011, Moonves named Fager chairman of CBS News, a position he relinquished in January 2015.