NEW YORK — Sep 13, 2018, 5:03 PM ET

CBS reporter says she felt threatened by Fager message

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CBS News reporter Jericka Duncan said Thursday she felt threatened when "60 Minutes" boss Jeff Fager sent her a text message to "be careful" when she questioned him about reports that he tolerated an abusive environment at the newsmagazine.

Fager was fired Wednesday over the message. He's characterized his language as harsh but didn't think he'd lose his job over it.

The extraordinary drama within CBS News is an outgrowth of an investigation into Fager's behavior. The New Yorker reported that he had groped women and allowed a "boy's club" atmosphere at the newsmagazine, which he has denied.

Fager had texted Duncan when she questioned him about the New Yorker report. "Be careful," the message said, according to Duncan. "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."

Asked on "CBS This Morning" whether she felt threatened by the message, Duncan said, "I did, and it's even hard to say that today.

"This was someone who held an enormous amount of power here, who I respected, and I was shocked," she said.

One of the morning show's co-hosts, Gayle King, said that "it certainly sounded like a threat."

"It was a threat," answered co-host John Dickerson.

An outside law firm is investigating the charges made against Fager by the New Yorker, and has not yet delivered its report. It's not clear whether those findings will be made public.

Fager was only the second executive producer of "60 Minutes" in the show's 50-year history. He succeeded founding executive producer Don Hewitt in 2004, and has kept it the most influential news programs on television. His firing resulted in raw feelings at the show, where CBS News President David Rhodes had a contentious meeting with staff on Wednesday, many of whom later joined Fager to commiserate at a nearby bar.

His top deputy, Bill Owens, will be in charge as a search is conducted for Fager's successor. The newsmagazine begins a new season on Sept. 30.

That search will be closely followed by those at "60 Minutes," which has never been governed by someone outside of the show's culture.

Meanwhile, Connecticut's Quinnipiac University, which presented Fager with its Fred Friendly journalism award earlier this year, said it has rescinded the honor. The college wouldn't give a reason for its decision.

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  • Clearly101

    From now on, whatever you do when you are 17, will be the basis upon which we judge you for the rest of your life.
    --Left Wing Socialist CodeBook, Item 12, section 38a, number 2

  • bflogayle

    Meanwhile, Connecticut's Quinnipiac University, which presented Fager with its Fred Friendly journalism award earlier this year, said it has rescinded the honor. The college wouldn't give a reason for its decision.

    It's as obvious as the nose on your face. Mr. Fager wasn't being all that "friendly".

  • Robin

    Another bully male in a high position using his position to intimidate. Like Harvey Weinstein. Power trips? Nice to see the "powerful" tumble down.

  • Ted Mittelstaedt

    There are reporters shot and killed in 3rd world countries as well as threatened with death. What he said was absolutely nothing. For goodness sake don't you people understand that when you threaten powerful men you can end up dead? She got the easy treatment and she's whining about it. I mean, President Trump has told us not to listen to the lying news media she must have made it all up - she probably stole his phone and tweeted it to herself.

    /sarcasm

  • Rodney Bayburn

    That was absolutely a physical threat. He said she’s better be careful because if she reported on sexual harassment then lots of people might lose their jobs and therefore might come after her. Glad to see he’s thrown out like the piece of garbage he is.

  • Dukedaddy

    Men of all stripes have have been exposed for their inappropriate sexual behaviour and have been punished in one form or another. Wonderful!

    Meanwhile we have a man in the White House who and behaved in the same manor, or in some cases worse, yet he is untouchable. In my opinion this must change. No one, and I mean NO ONE should be above the law.

  • John S. Henchey

    So he was a Pr*** to work for...We have all had them.

  • VeryCloseNow

    Man this country is descending into a circle of lies... though I do like the perverts getting outed and trounced... too bad it is only the straight guys getting in trouble... though there was one woman if I recall

  • John S. Henchey

    More than likely, when be said "Be careful", He meant " Get your act together or you'll be out of a job". What is wrong with that?

  • Margaret541

    At first I was thinking this is just an old guy who doesn't like to be questioned, especially by women. But it clearly sounds like what he especially doesn't want to be questioned about is sexual harassment at work and now we know why.

  • Technophile

    “Be careful son!” -mom

    What! How could she say that! She must be a child abuser, im going to call child services

  • AFRetired

    Who checks the checkers? These guys report about other perpetrators but they are in the same league. Bet this has been going on since the beginning of time. Who can we trust?

  • Aaron

    I would hardly call four sentences a 3rd grader could write a "story".

  • Billie Bob Norton

    My late husband would often tell me and the gals at work to be careful. On Friday afternoon's he would say. "Be good - and if you can't be good, be careful. And if you can't be careful, name it after me!" Good advice.
    Today, you can't say "be careful". You mustn't hope that the gals don't get preggers. What a world!
    Presidents grabbing "peaches" and everything is topsy turvey.

  • Aunt_tea04

    It must be tough to be a white male used to being the Patriarch and getting by with doing anything they want to do. But The Times, They are A-Changin'.

  • Pits

    Men can be such pigs.

  • Juggles

    That darn pendulum... Sometimes it swings too far in the other direction.

  • BassPlyr73 Again

    I tell my loved ones to "be careful" all the time. I hope they're not taking it the wrong way - I never thought about it like that.

  • Rubber Banned

    He used harsh language and was fired for it? Im curious, does the metoo movement advocate for empowered women or helpless, fragile victims? It's gotten ridiculous, it's just a vendetta culture now.

  • dancer92136

    I don't know if this is really something he should have been fired over. Talked to maybe.