A rainstorm of sexual misconduct accusations at CBS has brought down another top executive. CBS News president David Rhodes announced Wednesday in a memo to staffers that longtime “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager was leaving the company “effective immediately.” Fager’s second-in-command, Bill Owens, will take on the role of executive producer of “60 Minutes” while a search is underway for a permanent replacement.
Rhodes said the decision to let Fager go was not directly related to allegations in “press reports,” which he said will continue to be investigated by an independent party. Instead, Fager is out because he “violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those polices at every level.” Neither Rhodes nor CBS News said what company policy Fager had violated.
In a statement to CNN, Fager said that the company “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.”
The New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow – who had also reported on sexual harassment allegations against now-former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, which resulted in his ouster earlier this week – reported that several sources had accused Fager of unwanted touching and that he “allowed harassment in the division.”
Rhodes’ memo also stated that acting CEO Joe Ianniello “is in full support of this decision (involving Fager) and the transition to come.”