CBS News announced the departure of longtime 60 Minutes producer Jeff Fager after it was revealed that he sent a threatening text message to CBS News Correspondent Jericka Duncan, who has been covering the various sexual harassment scandals involving himself and former CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves.
Duncan asked Fager to comment on allegations in the New Yorker that he touched CBS employees in “ways that made them uncomfortable,” often while intoxicated at company parties. Fager denied the allegations.
Fager responded to Duncan’s request by sending a text warning her to be careful in reporting on this story.
“If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up, you will be responsible for harming me,” Fager said. “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.”
That was enough to terminate Fager, according to a memo from CBS News president David Rhodes, who said Fager “violated company policy. It is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level.
“This action today is not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently.”
Fager responded to his dismissal in a written statement, saying, “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.”
In addition to his role as executive producer of 60 Minutes, Fager has served as executive producer of CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes II. He spent four years as the chairman of CBS News from 2011-2015.