CBS has been under intense scrutiny for several weeks, ever since six women came forward in a July New Yorker article to allege sexual harassment and assault mostly by chief executive Leslie Moonves. On Wednesday, Jeff Fager, the executive producer of the flagship CBS news program “60 Minutes,” followed Moonves’s exit and left the company.
“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 memo. “However, he violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level.”
It is unclear what specific company policy the memo references.
Fager said in a separate statement that the allegations in the New Yorker are “false” and that the decision by CBS was unrelated.
“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,” Fager said.”One such note should not result in termination after 36 years, but it did.”
Fager, a former CBS News chairman who was entering his 15th season as a “60 Minutes” executive producer, has also been accused of dissuading employees from reporting incidents to human resources. He told Wemple at The Post, “I have never discouraged anyone from going to HR.”
Fager’s departure comes after Moonves — who was once among the most powerful and well-compensated media executives — resigned as chief of CBS on Sunday evening in light of a second New Yorker article detailing allegations of sexual assault, harassment and intimidation.
In a statement, Moonves said, “Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am.”
Moonves is expected to receive millions from a settlement with the CBS board. According to a company statement, Moonves and the company would be making a $20 million donation, taken from Moonves’s severance, “to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.”
“Despite Charlie’s important journalistic contribution to our news division, there is absolutely nothing more important, in this or any organization, than ensuring a safe, professional workplace — a supportive environment where people feel they can do their best work,” Rhodes said in a memo last year. “We need to be such a place.”