Jeff Fager, the executive producer of 60 Minutes and former chairman of CBS News, is leaving the company immediately.
Fager was also accused of abusive behavior in articles in The New Yorker about the culture and environment at CBS that helped lead to the departure of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves.
But in a memo to staff, CBS News president David Rhodes said “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. [New interim CBS CEO] Joe Ianniello is in full support of this decision and the transition to come.”
CBS News reported that Fager said he had been fired because of a text message to a CBS reporter demanding that she be fair in covering the story about him.
"My language was harsh and, despite the fact that journalists receive harsh demands for fairness all the time, CBS did not like it," Fager said. "One such note should not result in termination after 36 years, but it did."
He said a charge published in the New Yorker that he groped a former intern was outrageous. The magazine also said 19 CBS staffers said Fager permitted an atmosphere of harassment.
On the CBS Evening News, the reporter, Jericka Duncan, told anchor Jeff Glor what the text message said:
"If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up you will be held responsible for harming me. 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,” the text said.
During the broadcast Glor called the text message, which appear to threaten a reporter trying to do her job, as unacceptable.
Rhodes said that Bill Owens will manage the 60 Minutes team and that a search will begin for a new 60 Minutes producer.
“60 Minutes is 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 said.
Owens has been executive editor, the number two executive, at 60 Minutes since 2008.
He had overseen the production of nearly 1,000 60 Minutes segments. He also launched an co-executive produced 60 Minutes Sports, which ran for five season on Showtime.
Owens began his journalism career as a summer intern for CBS News in 1988 working at the national presidential nominating conventions in Atlanta and New Orleans. Before joining 60 Minutes, he worked at WCBS-TV, CBS This Morning and as senior White House producer in Washington during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
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