Producer out as CBS cleans up after harassment claims

In this file photo taken on July 29, 2012, shows 'CBS News' chairman and '60 Minutes' executive producer Jeff Fager. — AFP pic
In this file photo taken on July 29, 2012, shows 'CBS News' chairman and '60 Minutes' executive producer Jeff Fager. — AFP pic

NEW YORK, Sept 13 — The executive producer of 60 Minutes, America’s flagship investigative television news programme, was out at CBS yesterday in the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct and allegedly tolerating an abusive culture.

The exit of Jeff Fager comes three days after the television giant announced the departure of president, chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, whom at least 12 women had accused of sexual misconduct stretching back decades.

“Jeff Fager is leaving the company effective immediately,” CBS News president David Rhodes wrote in a note to staff reported by CBS News.

Fager’s exit was “not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports” but he had “violated company policy,” Rhodes added.

CBS News quoted Fager as saying that his contract had been terminated over a “harsh” text message he sent to a CBS reporter demanding that she be “fair” in covering the story.

“One such note should not result in termination after 36 years, but it did,” Fager was quoted as saying.

On July 27, The New Yorker broke the first public accusations against Moonves and also reported that 19 current and former employees accused Fager, a former chairman of CBS News, of allowing harassment in the workplace.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow reported that Fager would allegedly touch staff, making them uncomfortable at parties, and that he once made a drunken pass at a junior staffer.

Fager has denied the claims.

Fager previously served as chairman of CBS News and had been executive producer of 60 Minutes since 2003.

In August, the CBS board of directors hired outside lawyers to investigate the claims against Moonves, as well as “cultural issues at all levels of CBS”.

Moonves is one of the biggest scalps of the #MeToo era.

CBS announced his departure on Sunday, saying that he and the network would donate US$20 million to supporting the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace. — AFP

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