Moonves Ouster could accelerate leadership change at CBS News

Moonves Ouster could accelerate leadership change at CBS News

9:09 am PDT 9/12/2018


Marisa Guthrie
Jeremy Barr

The management of the company has not been up-to-date on the progress of the research.

The deposition of CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves after a new wave of allegations of serious misconduct also threatens to defame CBS News and 60 minutes executive producer Jeff Fager.

On 9 September The New YorkerRonan Farrow reported that a television producer has accused Fager of improperly touching her while she was interned at CBS in 2008. At the end of July, Farrow reported that six women accused him of being inappropriately touched, but that they were not mentioned. At that time he also mentioned 19 current and former network employees who claimed Fager & # 39; bullying & # 39; tolerated in the workplace.

Internally, news workers have expressed concern about the fact that the CBS board – which has hired two law firms to investigate allegations against Moonves that were raised for the first time last July, as well as the broader culture of the company – a house cleaning could set "motivated by optics, rather than facts," says an insider. This can not only sweep up Fager, but also other employees with decades of experience in television news.

"It seems that his days are counted now Moonves is gone," says a television manager who is familiar with the operation of CBS. "He is too closely connected to the Moonves story."

Moonves tapped Fager as chairman of CBS News in 2011, a position he held until the end of 2014. But multiple 60 minutes staff members say that although Moonves was a very hands-on manager, he respected the autonomy of the news department. He was known to send e-mails or phone calls to praise a particular interview or broadcast, but for the most part he did not join the case of 60 minutes. (The only notable exception was in 2017 when Moonves helped to guide Oprah Winfrey to the show as a special correspondent.)

When the first New Yorker story was published, much of the 60 minutes staff was at the end of a traditional summer vacation. And Fager extended his own holiday a week awaiting the conclusion of an investigation by the law firm Proskauer Rose that began last March and was prompted by allegations against Charlie Rose. This study is expected to have been completed by the end of August. But it was then collapsed in the Moonves survey – carried out by Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton – leaving Fager under a cloud and in limbo.

The CBS board has not been up-to-date on the progress of the research. (Proskauer Rose's lawyers began to interview 60 minutes employees last spring.) On 9 September, Time & # 39; s Up issued a strong statement calling for "full transparency" of the research. But the settlement between Moonves and Shari Redstone & # 39; s National Amusements Inc. which resulted in the exit of Moonves as chief executive of CBS Corporations includes provisions on non-belittlement and confidentiality that cover the findings of the probe. At this moment it is unclear what CBS can or will release about the findings.

Before the # MeToo movement started in the media industry, Fager, 63, considered withdrawing from the broadcast. He has been with CBS News for 36 years, with more than two decades 60 minutes, where he came under the maker Don Hewitt. And many around Fager thought he would resign after the 50th season of the show. But now he is in a fight to save his reputation and his legacy as only the second executive producer at the latest iconic news magazines on TV.

Fager has his support at CBS, who believe that what he accused has faded in comparison with Moonves and the journalists who got caught up in the #MeToo movement, including Rose, who has hired Fager for multiple roles. "Jeff has been a force for civilization 60 minutes, "said one director, although another admitted that even an accusation of improper touch could make the closing. 60 minutes has long been known as a challenging and highly competitive environment, the culture there, and within the industry in general, has evolved. Many of the top leaders among Fager are women.

There is also the question who would replace Fager at the helm of the show, no small task for network president David Rhodes. "That's a difficult task to follow," said a director. Meanwhile, the staff has a broadcast to set up, with the premiere of the 51st season scheduled on 30 September. "It is extremely frustrating and extremely disruptive," said a senior staff member.