Embattled former “60 Minutes” head Jeff Fager was fired for sending a harshly worded warning via text message to the CBS News reporter who is covering the sexual harassment scandals that have rocked CBS in recent weeks.
Fager was let go Wednesday amid growing pressure from sexual harassment allegations from multiple women as reported by Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker.
CBS News president David Rhodes said Wednesday that Fager was fired for violating company policy. Fager issued a statement referring to the text message he sent correspondent Jericka Duncan after she reached out to him for comment on Sunday, the day Farrow’s latest expose was published.
According to Farrow’s report, Fager has been accused of groping or inappropriately touching female CBS News staffers at company events.
Duncan reported on the situation with Fager on Wednesday’s edition of “CBS Evening News.” She read from Fager’s text message:
“If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up you will be responsible for harming me,” Fager wrote, per Duncan. “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.”
Earlier Wednesday, Fager issued a statement defending his actions and denying the accounts in Farrow’s report.
“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,” Fager said. “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.”
Fager’s ouster comes three days after CBS chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves was forced to resign under the cloud of sexual assault and harassment allegations as detailed by Farrow in the New Yorker.
(Pictured: Jericka Duncan)