’60 Minutes’ Chief Ousted for a Threatening Text as Upheaval at CBS Continues

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’60 Minutes’ Chief Ousted for a Threatening Text as Upheaval at CBS Continues

“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,” he said.
But inside the “60 Minutes” offices, across West 57th Street from the rest of CBS News, there was shock when the news of Mr. Fager’s firing landed in inboxes at 1:31 p.m. Several people were in tears.
“This action today is not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently,” Mr. Rhodes wrote in his memo. “However, he violated company policy, and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level.”
Mr. Fager did not have a chance to address his staff, and a staff meeting with Mr. Rhodes quickly turned into something of an aggressive news conference. Several people, including the correspondent Bill Whitaker, pointedly questioned Mr. Rhodes about why this infraction was serious enough to merit Mr. Fager’s immediate dismissal. They wondered why it could not be folded into the larger investigation happening at CBS.
Ms. Alfonsi, the “60 Minutes” correspondent, was reporting from San Francisco and said she had listened in remotely. “There was nothing that I heard in the meeting that made this make sense to me,” she said.
When Mr. Rhodes mentioned that Mr. Fager’s longtime No. 2, Bill Owens, would replace him on an interim basis, there was a sustained round of applause.
Continuity matters at “60 Minutes.” Despite dwindling audiences for news, the show has remained among the highest-rated series on network television. Mr. Fager, though he had given up his title as chairman of CBS News three years ago, enjoyed carte blanche to run his fief as he saw fit, recruiting famous names for the “60 Minutes” lineup like Anderson Cooper and Oprah Winfrey.

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