Jericka Duncan, a national correspondent for CBS News, revealed the contents of the text message that recently-ousted “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager said was the reason for his firing.
Duncan, whom Fager sent the message to, revealed the message on “CBS Evening News” on Wednesday night.
The text message to Duncan was a warning over the network’s coverage of the sexual harassment accusations against him. On Sunday, Duncan reached out to Fager for his response to allegations in The New Yorker that he had groped or touched CBS employees at company parties.
This is what he replied with, per Duncan: “If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up, you will be 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.”
CBS News said that Fager would leave the company immediately because he “violated company policy.” In a statement of his own, 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.”
Later on Wednesday, Duncan revealed she was the reporter in question that Fager sent the text to.
— Jericka Duncan (@Jerickaduncan) September 12, 2018
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.
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.