I had dealings with Mr. Fager way back in 1994 when he was still a producer for 60 Minutes, and I have recounted our exchanges elsewhere, but suffice to say, I was not pleased with the interaction, and being called “curt” for not saying “thank you” to him enthusiastically enough.
His version of his ouster was this:
The company…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 is not quite confirming that account that they fired him for being curt:
This action today 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 at every level.
Meaning he is not actually absolved of the other allegations, but given that at this stage of the investigation there would already be things confirmed and uncovered, it was enough to rid themselves of him. I doubt the text on its own would have resulted in an ouster under normal circumstances. It would be enough if something else is emerging.
This is a huge blow for 60 Minutes. When your brass is being removed for bad behaviour, your tut-tutting sounds false.
This turn doesn’t surprise me. Broadcast journalism is a toxic beast, and this ouster is not the end of the story — it is only after the investigation is completed that a fuller picture will emerge…