Jeff Fager, who has overseen the top-rated CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” since 2004, is leaving the network after he was found to have violated the company’s policy regarding sexual harassment.
“He violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level,” CBS News President David Rhodes said in a memo to staff.
Rhodes said the ouster is “not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports” regarding sexual harassment and a hostile work environment at Fager’s operation. He did not specify further.
In his absence, the venerable broadcast will be run by Bill Owens, who has served as executive editor since 2008.
Fager has been on thin ice since a New Yorker story published last July that claimed he ignored inappropriate behavior at “60 Minutes,” and that there were at least three financial settlements paid to former CBS News employees related to harassment and discrimination allegations.
The media executive was mentioned again in a New Yorker story published Sunday that contained allegations of sexual harassment and assault by former CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves. The CBS boss, who denied the allegations, resigned the same day.
The story included an allegation by a former female CBS News intern who said Fager groped her at a company event. Fager denied the allegation and accusations that he turned a blind eye to bad behavior in his operation.
While Fager has been fighting to keep his job, his chances of remaining at CBS diminished with the departure of Moonves. The former chief executive was loyal to Fager, who early in Moonves’ tenure at CBS produced a second midweek edition of “60 Minutes” over the strenuous objections of Don Hewitt, the show’s creator.
Fager also reluctantly took over as chairman of CBS News, at Moonves’ request. He served in the role from 2011 until 2014, when he moved back to “60 Minutes” full time and Rhodes was named president of CBS News.
Fager is only the second executive producer in the long history of “60 Minutes.” He took over the reins from Hewitt, who was able to run the program with a large degree of independence from the rest of CBS News.
Walled off from the rest of the news division, the program has had a reputation in the TV industry for having a misogynistic culture, dating back to its early days when legendary correspondent Mike Wallace went up to female co-workers and unfastened their bras.
Long-timers at the news division believe that the behavior was overlooked over the years because the program maintained its sterling journalistic reputation while being a major profit generator for CBS.
Some women who have worked at “60 Minutes” have been reluctant to speak out about any workplace issues because they did not want to damage what is one of the last bastions of investigative journalism on television.
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