Jeff Fager will leave as executive producer of “60 Minutes,” effective immediately, just three days following the forced resignation of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves.
“Jeff Fager is leaving the company effective immediately,” read a note to staff from CBS News president David Rhodes on Wednesday, obtained by TheWrap. “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. ’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.”
Fager’s departure comes amid a slew of sexual misconduct accusations that have been leveled against the longtime CBS News executive. Fager was accused of misconduct by six women in Ronan Farrow’s July New Yorker exposé about workplace culture at the network and its news division. In early May, CBS had announced an internal investigation after The Washington Post published multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against ousted “CBS This Morning” co-host and “60 Minutes” contributor Charlie Rose and other division executives.
That investigation was later folded into the larger probe being conducted by Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton investigating the sexual misconduct accusations against Moonves, as well as cultural issues at “all levels of CBS.”
However, Rhodes’ memo said Fager’s departure is not “directly related” to the accusations against Fager: “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. Joe Ianniello is in full support of this decision and the transition to come.”
In a statement obtained by TheWrap, Fager said the termination was over a text message: “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.”
Fager’s exit ends a 36-year tenure with CBS News, most of them as a producer. He was set to begin his 15th season as executive producer of “60 Minutes,” which returns for its 51st season Sept. 30. In 2011 he was named the first ever chairman of CBS News, launching the current iteration of “CBS This Morning” during his tenure. In 2015, he returned to “60 Minutes” as executive producer.
It’s been a rough week for CBS. On Sunday, after a second New Yorker report detailed six additional allegations against Moonves, the longtime CBS chief resigned later that night. The company also settled its legal dispute with its controlling stakeholder, National Amusmenets, Inc. Ianniello is currently leading the company as president and acting CEO.