In less than a week the CBS network has lost two of their biggest names. Within days of announcing their professional separation from Les Moonves as several sexual misconduct accusations have been thrown his direction, the former head of the CBS show “60 minutes”, Jeff Fager, has become the next to find their head in the company guillotine. The difference between the two is that I will not sit here and claim that Jeff Fager is one more man that the #Me too era has ruined without allowing them due process. Yes, several sexual misconduct claims have been made against Jeff Fager, but it was not the sexual misconduct claims that did him in like they did Les Moonves. In the case of Jeff Fager, Jeff Fager has nobody to blame but Jeff Fager. The professional relationship between Jeff Fager and CBS came to an end after Fager sent a harshly worded text to message to a CBS reporter who has been covering the sexual harassment scandals that found their way to the front door of CBS over the last several weeks.
According to a statement that CBS News president David Rhodes delivered Wednesday Jeff Fager was in violation of company policy. CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan was the target of the harshly worded text message that came from Jeff Fager after she reached out to him for comment the day that Ronan Farrow’s piece that led to the immediate termination of Les Moonves came out in The New Yorker. In the same piece that led to Les Moonves immediate termination Ronan Farrow wrote about accusations that had been aimed at Jeff Fager from women claiming that on more than one occasion Fager has inappropriately touched or groped female employees of CBS.
It was Jericka Duncan who reported on the Jeff Fager situation during the CBS evening news when she read from his 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.”
Before Duncan reported on the Fager situation during the CBS evening news, Jeff Fager issued his own statement in his defense as he defended both his conduct with Jericka Duncan and denied that the claims in Ronan Farrow’s article held any truth. In his defense Jeff Fager said, “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.”
What Jeff Fager failed to acknowledge in the defense he made before the situation was reported on during the CBS evening news was that he attempted to use the position and power that he felt he held at CBS at the time when Jericka Duncan came to him for a statement as he threatened her with potential professional harm to her career. CBS revealed that in his text Jeff Fager said, “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.”
"Be careful," then-@60Minutes EP Jeff Fager said in text to @Jerickaduncan. "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." https://t.co/ZE8kjYTkAA pic.twitter.com/7oY6t0Mp7j
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) September 12, 2018
At a time when CBS is trying to survive the embarrassment and show Americans that they take abuse of power and sexual misconduct very seriously I feel that it is pretty safe say that the blade on their guillotine is being kept fine and sharp indeed as head after head finds themselves removed from the positions of power they once held.