Jeff Fager, the executive producer of “60 Minutes,” has returned to work at the venerable CBS newsmagazine as a corporate investigation into the culture of the parent company and its news division continues.
Allegations that Fager, formerly chairman of CBS News, tolerated an abusive culture, have been made in reports published in The New Yorker and The Washington Post. The New Yorker report also included allegations against Leslie Moonves, the CEO of CBS Corp., of abusive behavior. “I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely,” Moonves said in a statement to the magazine.
Fager, one of only two people to oversee the storied program in its half-century on the air, returned to the office on Friday, according to a person familiar with the situation, joining staff in the production run-up to the launch of the show’s 51st season, which is slated to begin Sunday, September 30. Fager, who had been on vacation, extended his time away from the office as anticipation built that a probe into culture at CBS News, started in March by law firm Proskauer Rose, was set to wrap by the end of August.
CBS News declined to make executives available for comment.
Findings in that investigation may not be available for some time. Proskauer Rose’s appraisal is being folded into a larger investigation into CBS being handled by the company’s board of directors, which has hired two additional law firms, Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton, which will report to a special committee. The board has expressed confidence in Moonves’ management team.
The New Yorker story, written by Ronan Farrow, cited 19 current and former employees who alleged Fager protected men accused of misconduct, including some employees who reported directly to him. Six former employees alleged Fager had touched employees in an unwanted fashion at company events. The producer has denied the allegations. “It is wrong that our culture can be falsely defined by a few people with an axe to grind who are using an important movement as a weapon to get even, and not by the hundreds of women and men that have thrived, both personally and professionally, at ’60 Minutes.'” Fager said in a statement to the magazine. He also said the allegations against him are “false, anonymous, and do not hold up to editorial scrutiny.”
“60 Minutes” is a linchpin of CBS’ Sunday-night lineup and one of the most recognized news programs on TV. The newsmagazine drew an average of 11.5 million people last season and typically spends the bulk of its season among TV’s most-watched programs. The show hit a high note last season, adding Oprah Winfrey to its roster of contributors and running a joint investigation with The Washington Post about Congress undermining efforts to stop flow of opioids to the United. States that resulted in a rebuke of President Trump’s candidate to take the reins of the nation’s anti-drug effort.