May 27, 2019

At ‘60 Minutes,’ Independence Led to Trouble, Investigators Say

The draft report did say CBS was justified in firing Mr. Fager for sending a threatening text message to a CBS reporter who had asked him for comment after The New Yorker reported allegations of inappropriate behavior against him.

Two days after he sent the text, investigators wrote, they asked him about it and he denied sending any message. After Mr. Fager was presented with a printed version of the text, he “admitted sending it and acknowledged that it could be perceived as threatening.” They wrote that they believed his lying, too, was grounds for dismissal.

In his email, Mr. Fager said: “We built a broadcast made up of fine men and women who do quality work. It hasn’t always been perfect and, like anyone who has been in a leadership position, there are things that I would do differently, including the angry text I sent to a CBS reporter. My intent was only to demand fairness in the coverage of a news story, but I regret the manner in which I accomplished that.”

The investigators recommended that the next executive producer of “60 Minutes” report to the president of CBS News. Mr. Fager reported to Mr. Moonves.

“We note that the misconduct of individual ‘60 Minutes’ employees, including Mr. Fager and Mr. Rosen, should not have been tolerated, but we find that it was not as severe as the media accounts or as severe as the sexual misconduct that occurred during the Don Hewitt era at ‘60 Minutes,’” the investigators wrote.

The settlement involving Mr. Hewitt in the 1990s was reached after CBS investigated allegations that he had sexually assaulted a female employee. The alleged abuse had carried on over a period of years, the lawyers wrote in the report, and derailed the woman’s career.

CBS determined more than 20 years ago that her allegations were credible, and agreed to pay her a $450,000 settlement. Since then, CBS has renegotiated six amendments to her agreement, each time agreeing to pay additional money in exchange for her silence. The settlement has exceeded $5 million in total, plus annual payments of $75,000 for the rest of her life, according to the report.

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