11:30am PT by Michael O'Connell
CBS News' Jeff Fager Steps Down as Chairman
Jeffrey Fager is taking a step back at CBS News, announcing Thursday that he's given up the top post as chairman. The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that he informed staff earlier today. Fager, the longtime 60 Minutes executive producer, took the job back in 2011 to help lead a group-wide makeover.
Fager is not leaving CBS News — only returning to 60 Minutes full time. He's also extended his current contract as executive producer through 2019. As for a replacement, president David Rhodes now assumes sole leadership of CBS News.
"I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to express my profound admiration and gratitude to Jeff for the job he has done as chairman, as he, David Rhodes and the entire CBS News team have built and solidified the division’s longtime status as the finest news organization in the business," said CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves. "In Jeff and David we possess what has proven to be an unbeatable team, combining the wisdom, experience and proven creative track record of an industry leader with one of the most dynamic, exciting and seasoned young management voices in television news. We have come a long way under the leadership of that team. Now Jeff has convinced me that the time has arrived for the next step in the plan we implemented almost four years ago – for Jeff to return to an exclusive focus on a broadcast that defines the greatness of CBS, and for David to assume the sole leadership of CBS News.”
Fager assumed the role of chairman at a pivotal time for CBS, on the eve of Katie Couric's exit from the CBS Evening News. June of 2011 saw current anchor, and longtime 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley, assume the role of lead anchor for the nightly news telecast.
"When Leslie Moonves asked me to take the job of chairman, we agreed that when the time was right I would be able to return to 60 Minutes full-time," said Fager." I can’t imagine a better time for that than right now. So much about CBS News is going well, and I am extremely proud of where we have come in these four years. Just in this past month, we reached new heights. Our election coverage was the best it has been in a long time. Face the Nation is celebrating 60 years on the air, and it as strong as it has ever been. Our new streaming news service, CBSN, is up and running after an exciting and successful launch. Every day, the people of this news organization are turning in the kind of high-quality reporting that is in keeping with our identity and heritage as the home of the best in broadcast journalism. I am confident that this record of achievement will only get better with David Rhodes, my friend and partner in all of this, continuing as president. I hired him almost four years ago with this moment in mind, and he has exceeded all expectations.”
60 Minutes is largely considered the crown jewel of broadcast news. Even after a year that saw a messy public fallout from a Benghazi piece with inaccurate reporting from Lara Logan, 60 Minutes also remains untarnished in the ratings. It's currently averaging 13.2 million weekly viewers, easily making it the most-watched news program out there.
Rhodes had this to say on the matter: “Jeff is a great mentor and a close friend who has been my guide to CBS News since I arrived here in 2011. We’ve accomplished so much with him as chairman, and I am reassured that he will continue to be a resource to me and to the whole news organization. It’s terrific having Jeff continue as executive producer of our most important broadcast.”