Jeff FagerLatest News and Opinion
Posted Thursday 12/06/18 at 8:43PM EST
Report: CBS still pays ex-employee who alleged 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt sexually assaulted her
Source: The New York Times
The New York Times has released a new bombshell report on sexual misconduct at 60 Minutes, finding that CBS continues paying out a settlement through 2018 -- totaling more than $5 million -- to a former CBS employee who accused the legendary 60 Minutes founder of repeatedly sexually assaulting her in the 1990s. Hewitt launched 60 Minutes in 1968 and served as its powerful executive producer through 2004. He died in 2009 at age 86. The revelation comes in a 59-page draft report that independent investigators are expected to present to the CBS board next week. "Investigators revealed that CBS continues to pay out a settlement to a woman who claimed that Mr. Hewitt sexually assaulted her on repeated occasions and destroyed her career," reports The Times. "The settlement, reached in the 1990s, has been amended multiple times, including this year. In total, CBS has agreed to pay the former employee more than $5 million." The draft report, according to The Times, also found that Hewitt's successor, Jeff Fager -- whom CBS fired in September for threatening a CBS News reporter looking into allegations about his behavior -- “engaged in certain acts of sexual misconduct” with colleagues and failed to stop misbehavior by others. The draft report accuses Fager of groping one employee and trying to kiss another with an open mouth. The report also learned that Fager instructed a female employee to drive him and other producers to a legal brothel while reporting a story in Nevada. “This is the first I am hearing some of these allegations about my personal conduct,” Fager wrote in an email to The Times. “I’m surprised and devastated to hear them from The New York Times since I was not given the opportunity by CBS investigators to respond to their accuracy.” The Times also says the report found that 60 Minutes' famous independence from the rest of CBS News "came at a cost: The show proved unable to prevent inappropriate conduct by some of its top executives."
Posted Tuesday 10/09/18 at 6:10PM EDT
60 Minutes staffers agreed to omit former boss Jeff Fager from Emmy acceptance speeches
The CBS News program recently won four documentary and news Emmys, with the winners opting not to mention the ousted longtime former 60 Minutes producer's name.
Posted Wednesday 9/26/18 at 3:43AM EDT
60 Minutes executive producer job is reportedly down to two internal CBS News candidates
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter reports 60 Minutes executive editor Bill Owens, who was named interim 60 Minutes executive producer in the wake of Jeff Fager's firing, is said to be one of the final two candidates. He's competing in an "internal bake-off" with CBS News veteran Susan Zirinsky, who currently oversees 48 Hours and was the inspiration for Holly Hunter's character in Broadcast News.
Posted Monday 9/17/18 at 4:43PM EDT
CBS News producer Susan Zirinsky -- who inspired Holly Hunter's character on Broadcast News' -- could become 60 Minutes' new leader
Zirinsky, known as "Z," currently oversees 48 Hours for CBS News. A veteran of CBS News since 1972, Zirinsky has supervised award-winning documentaries and breaking news specials for the network. Variety reports that some CBS News staffers think she's the top internal candidate to replace fired 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager. Holly Hunter shadowed Zirinsky to prepare for her Broadcast News role, even getting a "bob" style haircut to resemble her.
Posted Thursday 9/13/18 at 11:07PM EDT
Jeff Fager's ouster puts a spotlight on the divide between 60 Minutes and CBS News
Source: The New York Times
60 Minutes staffers fear that Fager's exit will result in the folding of the newsrooms of CBS News with the iconic newsmagazine, which operate out of separate buildings. 60 Minutes servers are inaccessible to CBS News staffers, who must ask permission and use the show's watermark if they want to show its footage -- "as it if it were a rival station," reports The New York Times' John Koblin and Michael M. Grynbaum. "In its half-century on the air," they report, "60 Minutes has never been at home within the larger CBS News family," As former CBS News president Andrew Heyward explains, "the people at 60 Minutes were paid more, they had longer time to work on stories, they got incredible recognition in terms of ratings and prestige, so naturally the people in the trenches would sometimes be resentful of that. It was like a hit TV show that happened to be at CBS News.” 60 Minutes staffers fear that CBS News president David Rhodes -- whom Fager hired from Bloomberg News in 2011 -- would dismantle what they consider an institution. "Mr. Rhodes so rarely visits the 60 Minutes office that one staff member likened his appearance there on Wednesday, to discuss Mr. Fager’s firing, to the sighting of a unicorn," reports The Times. "Likewise, 60 Minutes officials are infrequent attendees at Mr. Rhodes’s editorial meetings for senior producers every Monday morning. So when he did show up, many staff members reacted in anger." ALSO: 60 Minutes staffers coined "Fager World" to describe Fager's happy bubble.
Posted Thursday 9/13/18 at 11:07PM EDT
Les Moonves, Jeff Fager and Charlie Rose helped shape how our society sees women
Source: The Washington Post
"It’s impossible to know how different America would be if power-happy and misogynistic men hadn’t been running the show in so many influential media organizations — certainly not just CBS," says Margaret Sullivan of three high-profile CBS departures. Sullivan points out that powerful men like Moonves, Fager and Rose didn't have to sexually harass women to exert their power, as shown in two instances on Tuesday. CBS News reporter Jericka Duncan, who received a threatening text from then-60 Minutes executive producer Fager, wasn't a victim of sexual harassment. Neither was Designing Women creator Linda Bloodworth Thomason, who penned a Hollywood Reporter guest column Tuesday describing how CBS boss Moonves sidelined her career. "Neither Duncan nor Bloodworth-Thomason have said they were victims of sexual harassment at CBS. But they certainly were mistreated," says Sullivan. "And these two moments offer a hint of how widespread the damage of a misogynistic culture can be — with the harm extending well beyond the primary victims whose careers, in some cases, were irrevocably derailed." ALSO: CBS News is looking as sexist, sick and predatory as Fox News.
Posted Thursday 9/13/18 at 4:01PM EDT
The Talk applauded Jeff Fager's firing and CBS' move to "clean house" -- with Julie Chen still absent and without bringing up Les Moonves
“I just think it’s so refreshing that this old regime of the boys club, guys taking care of guys…”, Osbourne said while discussing the 60 Minutes executive producer's ouster. “I just think it’s great to clean house.” For the fourth straight day, Chen was absent following her husband's ouster on Sunday. Chen said in her statement on Monday, “I will be back soon and will see you Thursday night on Big Brother.” ALSO: Chen and Moonves were spotted outside their house in Los Angeles.
Posted Thursday 9/13/18 at 1:29PM EDT
CBS This Morning anchors support CBS reporter Jericka Duncan after she received a threatening text from Jeff Fager
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
"This is a very difficult story for us to cover and certainly for you," said Gayle King, as the CBS News morning show recapped Fager's firing as 60 Minutes executive producer. "Big trees are falling at CBS but I really do believe the company wants to and can get this right," King said. "I can only imagine what this has done to you, how this has affected you and I certainly applaud you, Jericka, for speaking up."
Posted Wednesday 9/12/18 at 11:54PM EDT
Replacing Jeff Fager as 60 Minutes boss will be challenging since he's the second person to have the job
"Hiring an outsider would be unthinkable to many on the staff," says Brian Steinberg of the fired 60 Minutes executive producer's permanent successor. Fager replaced the legendary Don Hewitt, who launched 60 Minutes 50 years ago this month, in 2004. According to Steinberg, "without years of experience reporting and editing stories at a very high level, said one person familiar with the show, a new boss would not be welcomed. Two people familiar with the show said the executive producer role is not an easy one to fill with a producer from a rival network. The show is not like other newsmagazines like NBC’s Dateline or ABC’s 20/20, which often focus on crime stories or newsmaker interviews. Some staffers at the show consider PBS’ Frontline a competitor, one of these people said." ALSO:
Posted Wednesday 9/12/18 at 7:28PM EDT
60 Minutes boss Jeff Fager was fired for sending a threatening text to a CBS News reporter
Source: CBS News
CBS News reporter Jericka Duncan said on CBS Evening News that it was a text Fager sent to her that got him relieved of his duties today. Duncan said when she reached out to Fager on Sunday to comment on Ronan Farrow's New Yorker story accusing him of groping an intern, she was met with threatening text messages. “If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up you will be responsible for harming me,” Fager texted, according to 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.” CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor told Duncan that Fager's text was "unacceptable." CBS News president David Rhodes said in a statement that Fager's threatening message violated company policy. Fager had earlier released a statement saying CBS "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. 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.” Meanwhile, 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi said CBS News was wrong to fire Fager. “I think it’s a terrible day for CBS News,” she told The New York Times. “I think it is awful. I don’t understand how you get fired over a text message.” But longtime 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft appeared to agree with Fager's punishment. "The text to Jericka Duncan was threatening and inappropriate," he said. "It’s unfortunate and everything about this situation saddens me.”
Posted Wednesday 9/12/18 at 2:09PM EDT
Longtime 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager out after sexual misconduct allegations
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Fager, who has led 60 Minutes since 2004 and who was CBS News chairman from 2011 to 2015, is exiting CBS News, effective immediately, following reports accusing him of sexual misconduct and promoting an abusive workplace. Fager, 63, has been with CBS News since 1982 and was the second leader of 60 Minutes, succeeding the legendary Don Hewitt. Fager's exit comes three days after Ronan Farrow reported on a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Fager in The New Yorker. A former CBS News producer, Sarah Johansen, told Farrow he groped her when she was an intern. "This action today is not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently," said CBS News president David Rhodes. "However, he violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level." Fager will be replaced on an interim basis by 60 Minutes executive editor Bill Owens. Fager released a statement responding to his ouster: "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. 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.”
Posted Tuesday 9/11/18 at 9:05PM EDT
Les Moonves' ouster from CBS took many by surprise because he seemed "too big to jail"
"The simple fact is that it is deeply ingrained in us to think some men get to mistreat women. Some men are too big to jail," says Lili Loofbourow, pointing out that Moonves didn't get the boot until after another set of accusers came forward Sunday with even more disturbing stories. "We should accept no calculus that says six accusations aren’t enough but 12 are," she says. "The pragmatic politics here are as straightforward as they are irrational and nasty: The P.R. mills that grind people into capital determined that Moonves could weather one scandal enough to eat dinner in public and fight for his standing, but not two." Loofbourow adds: "Men like Moonves do all they can to encourage this assessment of their value, of course. They present themselves as essential to the success of the enterprise, knit their fate to the company’s. Moonves is more than diplomatic in interviews, but he makes clear that Warner Bros. was No. 1 when he left it, that CBS is now the No. 1 network under him, and that his biggest question when he arrived at CBS was whether he would be able to fix its problems: 'Am I ever going to get this right? How am I going to be able to figure out how to rebuild this place?' Men like this characterize accusations as conspiracies to bring them down because of their prominence ...The boards they install and executives they hire only serve to bolster the illusion that without these big men, the system will not hold. Those in more junior ranks who know of or encounter allegations are faced with the entire scaffolding of the institution arrayed against them. (Here’s what’s weird, though: This particular strain of corporate self-centering actually reveals the men in question to be abysmal stewards of their companies. Anyone whose organization is solely reliant on him has failed; the very claim that they’re irreplaceable speaks to fragility, not robustness.)"
- CBS does have the right to reveal findings of its Les Moonves investigation, despite a "Confidentiality" section in his exit agreement
- The Talk co-hosts support Gayle King's call for transparency in Moonves investigation
- Time's Up calls on CBS to donate $120 million from Moonves' severance
- CBS interim CEO Joe Ianniello was Moonves' right-hand man for a decade, which means he's unlikely to keep the job permanently
- 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager is still in his job as an investigation probes the culture of CBS News
- Howard Stern unveils a "Les Moonves puppet" to mock his former foe
Posted Saturday 8/11/18 at 4:53AM EDT
60 Minutes boss Jeff Fager is back at work, reports CBS News
Source: CBS News
Executive producer Fager returned to work on Friday, five days after CBS said he would extend his vacation amid a probe into CBS News and Les Moonves for alleged misconduct. CBS News reports, based on "multiple sources," that Fager addressed his staff and said he's back at work.
Posted Thursday 8/09/18 at 7:12PM EDT
Report: 60 Minutes boss tolerated a star producer's "abusive and alarming" workplace behavior
Source: The Washington Post
Allegations that senior producer Michael Rudutzky was an "out-of-control guy, especially but not exclusively toward women" were touched upon in Ronan Farrow's bombshell New Yorker story on Les Moonves. Farrow reported how Rudutzky -- who quietly left CBS News in May -- allegedly threatened to throw furniture at another senior producer, Vicki Gordon, and twisted her arm behind her back, an allegation that he categorically denies. 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager had Gordon apologize to mitigate conflict in the office, Farrow reported, but the 60 Minutes boss insists he didn't stop her from going to human resources. The Washington Post's Erik Wemple has uncovered further allegations of Rudutzky behaving badly. "According to numerous sources who worked with him and witnessed his conduct, the star producer engaged in behavior that ranged from screaming at colleagues to throwing objects — behavior they claim was tolerated for too long as Radutzky brought in exclusive 'gets' that burnished the 60 Minutes brand," Wemple reports. Wemple adds: "These allegations date back years — which is what makes them so powerful and so troubling: Under Fager’s leadership, 60 Minutes held on to an employee accused of assaulting Gordon, not to mention other allegations that point to a general pattern of troubling behavior." Former 60 Minutes employees say there was a "professional mind-meld" between Fager and Radutzky, leaving staffers in fear of reporting Radutzky's behavior. Wemple reports: "Those working under Radutzky knew whom they’d be challenging if they ever complained about his conduct. Said a former colleague, 'Michael made it clear to everyone that he had Jeff’s ear. … He held that as sort of a latent threat over everyone.'"
Posted Sunday 8/05/18 at 3:40PM EDT
60 Minutes boss Jeff Fager "has decided to stay on vacation" as CBS probes misconduct allegations
Fager, the former CBS News chairman who serves as executive producer of 60 Minutes, was scheduled to return to work on Monday, his first day in the office since Ronan Farrow's New Yorker exposé that alleged he oversaw a "toxic" work environment that included Fager himself acting inappropriately. “Having heard the investigation will be wrapping up soon, Jeff has decided to stay on vacation,” CBS News said in a statement today. Fager had denied the allegations to The New Yorker. “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,” he said.