CBS correspondent Jericka Duncan spoke out Wednesday night about a text message exchange she had with “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager over the weekend that pushed Fager out of the company.
News broke Wednesday afternoon that CBS terminated Fager’s contract early because he had “violated company policy.” The decision came amid multiple accusations of sexual harassment against Fager in The New Yorker in July and just days after the company’s CEO and chairman, Les Moonves, departed over similar allegations.
Fager, who has denied the claims of harassment, released a statement confirming he was fired because “I sent a text message to one of our CBS reporters” over her coverage of newer allegations against him that The New Yorker published Sunday.
“I am that reporter,” Duncan said on air. “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 articles alleging he groped or touched CBS employees at company parties.”
Fager responded to Duncan’s request for comment, a journalistic standard, with an angry response telling the reporter she would be “held responsible for harming me” if she repeated the allegations without her own reporting on the subject.
″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 said.
“CBS Evening News” anchor Jeff Glor told Duncan that the text was “unacceptable” and that the team at “Evening News” supported her “100 percent.”
Six former employees told The New Yorker in July that Fager would touch employees inappropriately while inebriated at company events, including an incident in which Fager allegedly commented on an associate producer’s breasts and then became “belligerent” when she refused his drunken advances.
In another report Sunday, former intern Sarah Johansen accused Fager of groping her at a work event. Fager denied both stories.
“When he grabbed my ass, it was just, like, ‘Welcome to ’60 Minutes.’ You’re one of us now,″ Johansen told The New Yorker.
CBS said in an internal memo that, although the allegations are not directly related to Fager’s termination, the company is still conducting an independent investigation into the matter.