CBS’s Duncan Shares Shocking Threats that Led to Firing of ‘60 Minutes’ Boss

CBS News was rocked by yet another high-profile firing on Wednesday after the network gave the boot to long-time 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager. The embattled producer was under scrutiny after claims of sexual misconduct surfaced. The firing came after he sent text messages to a female CBS reporter covering the story threating to end her career at the network.

“I am that reporter,” national correspondent Jericka Duncan bravely informed viewers hours after the firing during the CBS Evening News. “Since Jeff Fager publicly referred to our exchange today, I want to be transparent about it.”

According to Duncan, she had reached out to Fager to get a comment on new claims he had groped women at company parties. The accusations clearly infuriated Fager and he lashed out at Duncan with a serious threat.

In addition to denying these charges, Fager in a text said to me, quote, ‘If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up, you will be held responsible for harming me,’” Duncan read from the texts.

In one message, Fager sounded like a corporate villain from a movie as he threatened her with a comment about happens to people who try to “harm” him. “He went on to say, ‘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,’” Duncan continued to read.

 

 

Doing her due diligence as a journalist, Duncan shared Fager’s response to the firing (which was released through his attorney). “‘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. CBS did not like it,’” she repeated.

While Duncan did read a statement from CBS News president David Rhodes about why Fager was fired, he refused to speak with Duncan’s team after he spoke with the 60 Minutes staff about their producer’s departure. “I can’t talk to you guys about this today,” he told the crew as he was walking to a vehicle.

After Duncan was finished with her report, CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor delivered a heartfelt message to his colleague.

“Jericka, you and I have talked about how incredibly difficult covering this story has been for you. You have been on this since the beginning. You’ve done great work. It's difficult enough without dealing with this,” he told her. “That message was unacceptable. I think it's important for you to know, for everyone to know back there that I, we, the entire team at Evening News supports you 100 percent. So, Jericka, thank you.”

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

 

 

CBS Evening News
September 12, 2018
6:40 P.M. Eastern

JEFF GLOR: Now, to another developing. CBS News today fired Jeff Fager, the executive producer of 60 Minutes, who had spent 36 years at the network. In less than a year now, three of the most powerful men in broadcasting Fager, CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves; and CBS This Morning co-host, Charlie Rose, all accused of sexual misconduct have either been fired or resigned. Jericka Duncan has the latest on Fager, including his controversial text message.

(…)

JERICKA DUNCAN: We caught up with CBS News President David Rhodes today after he briefed the 60 Minutes staff.

DAVID RHODES: I can’t talk to you guys about this today.

DUNCAN: In a statement today, Rhodes said, "Fager's dismissal is not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently. However, he violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those policies." Through his attorney, Fager told CBS News, "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. CBS did not like it."

[Cuts back to live]

I am that reporter. Since Jeff Fager publicly referred to our exchange today, I want to be transparent about it. First, here's some background. Sunday evening, I reached out to Fager for comment on the article’s alleging he groped or touched CBS employees at company parties. In addition to denying these charges, Fager in a text said to me, quote, "If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up, you will be held responsible for harming me."

He went on to say, "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."

60 Minutes will enter its 51st season under the leadership of executive editor Bill Owens while the search for a new executive producer begins.

GLOR: Jericka, you and I have talked about how incredibly difficult covering this story has been for you. You have been on this since the beginning. You’ve done great work. It's difficult enough without dealing with this. That message was unacceptable. I think it's important for you to know, for everyone to know back there that I, we, the entire team at Evening News supports you 100 percent. So, Jericka, thank you.

DUNCAN: Thank you.

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