Fager remains in his role at the CBS News program, which is supposed to kick off its 51st season on Sunday, September 30. But he and many other CBS News staffers are waiting for the parent company’s board to sift through the findings of a recent investigation into the culture of CBS News. Insiders are not quite sure when that work might be done, and the board did not disclose a timeline in a filing made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Monday. A probe into CBS News culture led by the law firm Proskauer Rose has been rolled into a larger investigation into the overall company that is being conducted by the CBS board of directors in the wake of revelations about former CEO Leslie Moonves, who was the subject of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by many women. Moonves left his job on Sunday.
Allegations published in The New Yorker in August accused Fager of turning a deaf ear to instances of harassment even as three financial settlements paid to employees of the newsmagazine were related to allegations of discrimination or harassment. A September report by the magazine detailed an allegation by one woman who accused Fager of groping her at a company event.
The new report and Moonves’ exit have renewed the tough spotlight that has shone on the veteran producer and sparked another round of speculation about his fate. CBS News declined to comment on the matter.
“I have encouraged everyone at 60 Minutes to speak to the lawyers reviewing our culture with the hope that our entire staff would have a voice, and the truth would come out about our workplace,” Fager said in a statement to the magazine. He said he believed “that a fair and open investigation will determine 60 Minutes is a good place where talented women and men thrive and produce some of the finest broadcast journalism in America.”
The situation serves as a distraction to the “60 Minutes” staff, who have spent recent weeks screening interviews and reports for broadcast, according to two people familiar with the program. These people said staffers are trying to keep to “business as usual” even as most wonder what the CBS board’s ultimate findings will be.
Fager has supporters at the show, these people said. He is only the second executive producer of the program, and is the successor to the legendary Don Hewitt, who founded the show. During his time there, the show has placed more women in senior roles. Five of eight senior producers, a group that includes Fager, are women. The show’s three broadcast managers, who run news operations, are female. And women constitute a greater portion of the show’s producer. When Fager took the reins of “60 Minutes” in 2004, there were two. There are certainly more in 2018.
Fager was out of the office on Monday and part of Tuesday, the days immediately following the announcement of Moonves’ departure. The two people familiar with the show said the absence had been previously planned and had to do with a commitment related to family. These people suggested he could return to the office this week.