CBS's "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager was "on vacation" when the New Yorker quoted staff members' allegations that he had touched employees in ways that made them uncomfortable at company parties. The staff returned to work from vacation last week. Fager was to have come into work Monday. Now, CBS says, he won't return to work until the investigation into those allegations is complete.
In March, CBS hired a law firm to investigate alleged misconduct at CBS News, including "60 Minutes." Those allegations began with the Washington Posts' reporting that anchor Charlie Rose had a long history of sexual misconduct. CBS fired Rose as soon as the story hit the newsstands. Two weeks go, a second wave of bad news rocked the network.
The New Yorker story reported:
Nineteen current and former employees told me that Jeff Fager, the former chairman of CBS News and the current executive producer of “60 Minutes,” allowed harassment in the division. “It’s top down, this culture of older men who have all this power and you are nothing,” one veteran producer told me. “The company is shielding lots of bad behavior.
"Having heard the investigation will be wrapping up soon, Jeff has decided to stay on vacation," a CBS News spokesperson said on Sunday.
Last Thursday, CBS president David Rhodes told CBS employees that the internal investigation into misconduct involving news division employees will be completed by the end of this month. So Fager will stay away from the office, while his boss, the man who appointed him chairman of CBS News from 2011 to 2015, stays on the job, even though he also is accused of even more serious sexual misconduct. The New Yorker story said six women accused Les Moonves, the chairman and CEO of CBS, of sexual harassment and intimidation and "dozens more" described "abuse at his company."
But the new investigation into Moonves' conduct may take considerably longer, since that investigation just began last week when the corporate board hired two law firms to do the work.
Fager has not said anything publicly beyond his initial reaction to the New Yorker story, which he said was "false, anonymous, and do not hold up to editorial scrutiny." He also said:
"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.'"
The New Yorker said it interviewed 19 current and former employees who said Fager protected men who reported to him from accusations of misconduct. Writer Ronan Farrow reported that a female former senior producer said Fager promoted a male senior producer who had been physically abusive toward her. When the woman complained about her colleague, she says, Fager told her to apologize to the other senior producer to "mitigate conflict in the office."
Last week, the president of CBS entertainment, Kelly Kahl, told media critics “I believe we take workplace safety very seriously. ” Kahl added, “I think if you look up and down the halls in CBS you’ll find a very safe environment.” But he would not answer questions about a number of allegations inside his own division involving sexual misconduct. He did make the point that 61 percent of CBS vice-presidents and high-level executives are women.