Media

'60 Minutes' chief out at CBS amid harassment allegations

CBS News on Wednesday announced that "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager is leaving the company "effective immediately," amid allegations of inappropriate behavior.

"This action today is not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently," CBS News president David Rhodes said in a statement. "However, he violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level."

"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," Rhodes added. 

 

The decision comes after investigative reporter Ronan Farrow reported in The New Yorker on Sunday that former CBS intern Sarah Johansen accused Fager of touching her inappropriately in the 2000s.

Fager denied the allegations published in The New Yorker and said CBS's decision "had nothing to do with" the article, instead citing a text message sent to a CBS reporter that featured "harsh" language.

"The company's decision had nothing to do with the false allegations printed in The New Yorker," Fager said in a statement.

"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," he added.

A total of 19 current and former CBS employees also accused Fager of inappropriate touching and allowing harassment to occur at the network, according to The New Yorker.

An earlier New Yorker article published in August implicated Fager, along with former CBS CEO Les Moonves, in a series of allegations of sexual misconduct at the company. Moonves stepped down earlier this week amid the allegations. 

An investigation was launched by CBS into Fager over the summer.

Fager denied the allegations in August, telling The New Yorker "they never happened," while saying his accusers were "using an important movement as a weapon," apparently referencing the #MeToo movement.

According to the company, Fager's departure is not directly tied to the allegations, but rather to a violation of company policy.

Joe Ianniello, who took over on CBS's interim CEO, is in "full support of this decision and the transition to come," according to Rhodes.

Fager, 63, was named chairman of CBS News in 2011. He joined CBS in 1982 and was named "60 Minutes" executive producer in 2004.

Fager's resignation marks the third high-profile person to be ousted from the network in the past 10 months.

"CBS This Morning" host Charlie Rose was fired by the network in Nov. 2017 amid allegations of unwanted sexual advances.

-- Updated 3:00 p.m.

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