Jeff Fager tried to downplay his ouster:
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.
Well, CBS News has released the content of the text he sent:
[Fager] sent a text message to CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan with a warning over the network's coverage of the sexual harassment accusations against him.
On Sunday, Duncan reached out to Fager for his response to allegations in The New Yorker that he had groped or touched CBS employees at company parties.
"If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up you will be held responsible for harming me," Fager replied. "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."
Wow, there were people who lost their jobs trying to harm him.
That is a very serious threat to make to a coworker who is doing a story on you. Not just “harsh,” but life-altering.
I have heard similar threats when I worked on stories. This is the way people try to shut down the truth from coming out.
CBS was painted as tyrants for kicking him out over some silly little text, and they merely put out that very text.
See? Technology. It gives tangible evidence. I still have all the voice mails 60 Minutes left on my answering machine in late 1993 and 1994.
The move is worse now because we now have a credibility problem: that denials will not be believed, and that a network could allow that kind of behaviour go on unchallenged.
And 60 Minutes is hit the worst of all: for all those decades they were the moral ones who stood up to people who made those kind of threats…and they were playing the same games all along...