CBS News on Wednesday fired Jeff Fager, the executive producer of "60 Minutes," issuing a statement saying he had violated company policy.
The news division's president, David Rhodes, wrote in an email to the staff that Fager's exit "is not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently." In July, Fager was accused of inappropriate touching by several unnamed women who spoke to The New Yorker.
In addition to those claims, The New Yorker reported that 19 current and former CBS employees, many of whom were unnamed, alleged that Fager allowed harassment in the news division. Fager denied the claims.
Fager said in an emailed statement that he was fired after contacting a CBS reporter who had been covering the ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against him and accusations that he had created a workplace that tolerated harassment.
"The company’s decision had nothing to do with the false allegations printed in The New Yorker," Fager said in the statement. "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.”
CBS News national correspondent Jericka Duncan said on Twitter that the text that resulted in Fager's firing was sent to her, and that she would be reporting on the situation later in the evening. Duncan did not immediately respond to an email for comment.
CBS News later reported that Fager had warned Duncan about repeating the allegations against him. "Be careful," he reportedly texted. "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."
The firing of Fager, a former chairman of CBS News, comes just days after the chief executive of CBS, Leslie Moonves, stepped down. He was replaced as acting CEO by Joseph Ianniello, who had been chief operating officer.
Rhodes fired Fager after conversations with Ianniello, according to two people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly.
CBS News did not respond to a request for comment.
In another New Yorker article published last week, Fager was accused by an additional unnamed woman of groping her at a work party. Fager declined to comment in that story to the magazine.
Fager, was first named executive producer of "60 Minutes" in 1996, was appointed the first chairman of CBS News in 2011. He stepped down from the chairman position in 2015 and returned to "60 Minutes" full time.
Fager is the most recent high-profile exit from CBS News. Charlie Rose, who had been a co-anchor on “CBS This Morning” and a contributing correspondent for “60 Minutes” was fired by CBS in November 2017 after The Washington Post published accusations against him from eight women, five of whom spoke anonymously, of unwanted sexual advances and touching.
It is unclear if Fager will pursue legal action against CBS. A law firm representing Fager declined to comment beyond his initial comment.