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The executive producer of CBS' long-running news program “60 Minutes” was fired on Wednesday after sending threatening text messages to an internal reporter.
Jeff Fager got heated with journalist Jericka Duncan when she asked for comment on allegations made in The New Yorker that he inappropriately touched and groped employees during workplace events, aggressively saying that she should “be careful” when reporting the story.
Duncan read their exchange out loud on “CBS Evening News” on Wednesday. According to Duncan, Fager wrote:
-if you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up you will be held responsible for harming me. 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.
Watch the video below:
#BREAKING: CBS News reporter Jericka Duncan says she received text message from Jeff Fager that led to his ultimate firing; the new broke during the CBS Evening News program on Wednesday pic.twitter.com/f8cg1tsqz6
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) September 12, 2018
CBS News announced Wednesday that Fager was being let go from the company because he “violated company policy” and confirmed that his allegations of sexual harassment had nothing to do with his firing.
“This action today is not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently,” CBS News President David Rhodes said in a memo. “However, he violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level.”
Fager confirmed the text message exchange with Duncan in a statement to CNN but said his request for balanced reporting was neither out of the ordinary nor grounds for his ousting:
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.
This scandal comes following the resignation of Leslie Moonves as CEO of the company amid new allegations of sexual assault and harassment. He was expected to collect an estimated $100 million in severance but may get nothing pending an ongoing investigation of claims saying he was violent against women.
Regardless, $20 million of Moonves' severance will go to charities supporting the #MeToo movement.