Jeff Fager

Executive / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

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About
About this interview

In his nearly three-and-a-half-hour interview, Jeff Fager discusses his childhood in Wellesley, MA and what he learned as an English major at Colgate University. He talks about his first news jobs in San Francisco and Boston and how he eventually became the producer of CBS Evening News in London. Fager describes danger he faced reporting in the Middle East, becoming a producer at 60 Minutes, and what he learned from the show’s creator, Don Hewitt. He touches on his time as executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and working on 48 Hours at the series’ beginning. For 60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II, Fager describes the process by which stories are produced and edited, and details some of the programs’ most important and controversial reporting including tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Winger, Abu Ghraib, “Memogate,” and Benghazi. He talks about what it meant to take over as executive producer of 60 Minutes from Don Hewitt and discusses working with 60 Minutes correspondents Morley Safer, Ed Bradley, Mike Wallace, Andy Rooney, Lesley Stahl, and Charlie Rose. Fager recounts his achievements during his tenure as Chairman of CBS News and concludes by giving advice to young journalists, discussing his mentors and role models, and sharing how he would like to be remembered. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on June 6, 2016 in New York, NY.

"We don’t cover issues. We tell stories. And I think that is still a fundamental concept that makes '60 Minutes' different."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Jeff Fager on the best advice he received on producing a story, from Don Hewitt
Jeff Fager on the production of 60 Minutes: pitching stories and how he approves or rejects story ideas
Jeff Fager on the Abu Ghraib story on 60 Minutes II
Jeff Fager on what journalists can learn from Mike Wallace and Ed Bradley about conducting interviews
Jeff Fager on the 60 Minutes II "Memogate" scandal, which centered on President George W. Bush's military service and was reported by Dan Rather
Jeff Fager on advice for young journalists
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his first news jobs in Boston and San Francisco
On his first jobs at CBS News; on stories he worked on as a producer of CBS Evening News in London
On the influence of the network on stories covered by CBS Evening News; on conflicts between Don Hewitt and then-CEO of CBS Laurence Tisch; on 48 Hours
On what attracted him to 60 Minutes; on how Don Hewitt's philosophy of news influenced the mission of 60 Minutes
On producing hard news versus entertainment stories; on how stories are pitched at 60 Minutes; on Mike Wallace's interviewing style

Chapter 2

On competitions for stories on 60 Minutes; on the process of developing, editing, and occasionally reshooting stories for 60 Minutes
On the network's input into 60 Minutes stories; on producing stories on the Gulf War for CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes; on leaving 60 Minutes
On changes he made as executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather; on his commitment to "hard news"
On why and how 60 Minutes II came about; on CBS News coverage of 9/11
On the Abu Ghraib story on 60 Minutes II; on the "Memogate" scandal; on Dan Rather leaving CBS

Chapter 3

On becoming executive producer of 60 Minutes; on working with various correspondents at 60 Minutes
On 60 Minutes' digital manifestations; on becoming Chairman of CBS News and changes he made to various programs
On balancing his roles as Chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes; on the controversial 2013 60 Minutes story on Benghazi
On diversity at 60 Minutes; on how news has changed during his time in the business; on Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, and Donald Trump interviews on 60 Minutes
On TV news coverage of presidential elections; on the longevity of 60 Minutes; on the most difficult and exciting parts of executive producing 60 Minutes
On the public's perception of news media; on his mentors and role models; on advice for young journalists; on career highlights and regrets; on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

48 Hours

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Jeff Fager on becoming a producer on 48 Hours at the beginning of the show

60 Minutes

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Jeff Fager on changes at CBS when Laurence Tisch became CEO in 1986 and how they affected 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on a conflict between then-CEO of CBS Laurence Tisch and 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt over the story of tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Winger, who alleged that the tobacco industry knew the addictive and deadly nature of cigarettes
Jeff Fager on why he was excited by working at 60 Minutes and how Don Hewitt's philosophy informed the program
Jeff Fager on how Don Hewitt's philosophy of news influenced him as producer of 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on producing Steve Kroft's first story for 60 Minutes and producing a story that Don Hewitt hated
Jeff Fager on producing hard news versus entertainment stories: he prefers "entertaining stories" on CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on the production of 60 Minutes: pitching stories and how he approves or rejects story ideas
Jeff Fager on how producing and correspondent teams are paired on 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on Mike Wallace's style as a 60 Minutes correspondent, particularly his "ambush" interviews
Jeff Fager on what journalists can learn about conducting interviews from Mike Wallace and his work on 60 Minutes, as well as his admiration for Ed Bradley and Charlie Rose
Jeff Fager on competition for stories on 60 Minutes between Mike Wallace and Morley Safer and other correspondents and producers
Jeff Fager on the process of developing stories for 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on the process of editing and occasionally reshooting stories on 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on 60 Minutes employing a person who checks the transcripts of all interviews done for the show to check for accuracy and context
Jeff Fager on the network's input into 60 Minutes stories
Jeff Fager on producing stories on the Gulf War for CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on leaving 60 Minutes to become executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
Jeff Fager on why and how 60 Minutes II came about, and the initial reaction to the show
Jeff Fager on the differences between 60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II
Jeff Fager on 60 Minutes II and CBS News coverage of 9/11
Jeff Fager on the Abu Ghraib story on 60 Minutes II
Jeff Fager on the 60 Minutes II "Memogate" scandal, which centered on President George W. Bush's military service
Jeff Fager on hiring Dan Rather as a correspondent on 60 Minutes following his dismissal as anchor of CBS Evening News
Jeff Fager on becoming executive producer of 60 Minutes in 2004
Jeff Fager on working with Ed Bradley at 60 Minutes when Fager became executive producer of the show
Jeff Fager on working with Mike Wallace at 60 Minutes when Fager became executive producer of the show
Jeff Fager on working with Morley Safer at 60 Minutes when Fager became executive producer of the show and his favorite Safer pieces
Jeff Fager on the tragic losses 60 Minutes has suffered over the years and how he strives to replace correspondents (some of whom he considers irreplaceable)
Jeff Fager on the creation of 60 Minutes Overtime, 60 Minutes' online companion and the 60 Minutes app
Jeff Fager on balancing his roles as Chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on the controversial 2013 60 Minutes story on Benghazi
Jeff Fager on diversity at 60 Minutes and hiring Bill Whitaker as a correspondent on the show
Jeff Fager on Charlie Rose's interviews of Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad on 60 Minutes and airing Putin's interview on the same night as an interview with Donald Trump
Jeff Fager on the longevity of 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on what has kept him at 60 Minutes for nearly 34 years
Jeff Fager on the most difficult and the most exciting part about being executive producer of 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on the best advice he received on producing a story, from Don Hewitt
Jeff Fager on his proudest career achievement: running 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on stories and interviews he's looking forward to on 60 Minutes

CBS Evening News with Dan Rather

View Show Page
Jeff Fager on working on CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
Jeff Fager on stories he worked on as producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather in London
Jeff Fager on resistance from the network on CBS Evening News reporting on certain stories, with the example of a story about Palestinian refugee camps
Jeff Fager on producing hard news versus entertainment stories: he prefers "entertaining stories" on CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on leaving 60 Minutes to become executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
Jeff Fager on changes he made as executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
Jeff Fager on Dan Rather's reaction to changes Fager made as executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
Jeff Fager on being executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather at a time when news was becoming more sensational

CBS Evening News with Katie Couric

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Jeff Fager on replacing Katie Couric with Scott Pelley as anchor of CBS Evening News

CBS News

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Jeff Fager on becoming Chairman of CBS News and the changes he made to CBS This Morning
Jeff Fager on the changes he made to CBS This Morning being his proudest achievement as Chairman of CBS News
Jeff Fager on the changes he made as Chairman of CBS News and the philosophy and legacy of CBS News he was trying to revive
Jeff Fager on what has changed about news since he started in the business and what makes CBS News different from other networks

Face the Nation

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Jeff Fager on changes he made to Face the Nation as Chairman of CBS News
Topics

9/11

View Topic
Jeff Fager on where he was on 9/11 and coverage of the event on 60 Minutes II and CBS Evening News

Advice

View Topic
Jeff Fager on the best advice he received on producing a story, from Don Hewitt
Jeff Fager on advice for young journalists
Jeff Fager on the lifestyle of being a journalist

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
Jeff Fager on resistance from the network on CBS Evening News reporting on certain stories, with the example of a story about Palestinian refugee camps
Jeff Fager on a conflict between then-CEO of CBS Laurence Tisch and 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt over the story of tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Winger, who alleged that the tobacco industry knew the addictive and deadly nature of cigarettes
Jeff Fager on network input into 60 Minutes stories

Cold War

View Topic
Jeff Fager on covering the Soviet Union for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, including a story where they explored what Russians were proud of

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Jeff Fager on his father as his role model

Criticism of TV

View Topic
Jeff Fager on being executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather at a time when news was becoming more sensational
Jeff Fager on the public's perception of the news media

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Jeff Fager on bringing on younger correspondents when he became executive producer of 60 Minutes and the importance of diversity
Jeff Fager on diversity on 60 Minutes and hiring Bill Whitaker as a correspondent on the show

Donald J. Trump

View Topic
Jeff Fager on how television news covers presidential elections and particularly the 2016 election and Donald Trump

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Jeff Fager on his feelings about awards and his Emmys, in particular

First Big Break

View Topic
Jeff Fager on his first job out of college, at the NBC affiliate WBZ in Boston

George W. Bush

View Topic
Jeff Fager on the 60 Minutes II "Memogate" scandal, which centered on President George W. Bush's military service

Gulf War

View Topic
Jeff Fager on producing stories on the Gulf War for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and 60 Minutes

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Jeff Fager on producing stories in the Middle East in the 1980s for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
Jeff Fager on covering the Soviet Union for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, including a story where they explored what Russians were proud of
Jeff Fager on producing stories on the Gulf War for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on where he was on 9/11 and coverage of the event on 60 Minutes II and CBS Evening News
Jeff Fager on the Abu Ghraib story on 60 Minutes II
Jeff Fager on the controversial 2013 60 Minutes story on Benghazi

Interactive Technology

View Topic
Jeff Fager on the creation of 60 Minutes Overtime, 60 Minutes' online companion and the 60 Minutes app
Jeff Fager on the biggest problem facing the news media and the choices that are being made in response to digital media and the search for "clicks"

Media Bias

View Topic
Jeff Fager on the public's perception of the news media

Memorable Moments on Television

View Topic
Jeff Fager on a conflict between then-CEO of CBS Laurence Tisch and 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt over the story of tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Winger, who alleged that the tobacco industry knew the addictive and deadly nature of cigarettes
Jeff Fager on the Abu Ghraib story on 60 Minutes II

New Media

View Topic
Jeff Fager on the creation of 60 Minutes Overtime, 60 Minutes' online companion and the 60 Minutes app
Jeff Fager on the biggest problem facing the news media and the choices that are being made in response to digital media and the search for "clicks"

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Jeff Fager on his first job out of college, at the NBC affiliate WBZ in Boston
Jeff Fager on what he learned from his first job at CBS News, on the overnight news show, Nightwatch
Jeff Fager on his father as his role model

Television Industry

View Topic
Jeff Fager on resistance from the network on CBS Evening News reporting on certain stories, with the example of a story about Palestinian refugee camps
Jeff Fager on changes at CBS when Laurence Tisch became CEO in 1986, and conflicts between him and Don Hewitt
Jeff Fager on a conflict between then-CEO of CBS Laurence Tisch and 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt over the story of tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Winger, who alleged that the tobacco industry knew the addictive and deadly nature of cigarettes
Jeff Fager on network input into 60 Minutes stories
Jeff Fager on being executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather at a time when news was becoming more sensational
Jeff Fager on the creation of 60 Minutes Overtime, 60 Minutes' online companion and the 60 Minutes app
Jeff Fager on what has changed about news since he started in the business
Jeff Fager on the public's perception of the news media
Jeff Fager on the biggest problem facing the news media and the choices that are being made in response to digital media and the search for "clicks"
Jeff Fager on the best advice he received on producing a story, from Don Hewitt
Jeff Fager on advice for young journalists
Jeff Fager on the lifestyle of being a journalist

Television and the Presidency

View Topic
Jeff Fager on the 60 Minutes II "Memogate" scandal, which centered on President George W. Bush's military service
Jeff Fager on how television news covers presidential elections and particularly the 2016 election and Donald Trump

War

View Topic
Jeff Fager on producing stories in the Middle East in the 1980s for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
Jeff Fager on covering the Soviet Union for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, including a story where they explored what Russians were proud of
Jeff Fager on producing stories on the Gulf War for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on the Abu Ghraib story on 60 Minutes II
Jeff Fager on the controversial 2013 60 Minutes story on Benghazi

War on Terror

View Topic
Jeff Fager on the Abu Ghraib story on 60 Minutes II
Jeff Fager on the controversial 2013 60 Minutes story on Benghazi

We Considered

View Topic
Jeff Fager on a conflict between then-CEO of CBS Laurence Tisch and 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt over the story of tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Winger, who alleged that the tobacco industry knew the addictive and deadly nature of cigarettes
Jeff Fager on the Abu Ghraib story on 60 Minutes II
Professions

Correspondent

View Profession
Jeff Fager on what journalists can learn from Mike Wallace and Ed Bradley about conducting interviews

Executives

View Profession
Jeff Fager on becoming Chairman of CBS News in 2011 and changes he made to various CBS News shows
Jeff Fager on balancing his roles as Chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes and his proudest achievements as Chairman

Journalists & News Producers

View Profession
Jeff Fager on his first job as a producer on the 11 o'clock news at KPIX in San Francisco
Jeff Fager on his first job at CBS News, on the overnight news show, Nightwatch
Jeff Fager on how Don Hewitt's philosophy of news influenced him as producer of 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on producing hard news versus entertainment stories: he prefers "entertaining stories" on CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on the production of 60 Minutes: pitching stories and how he approves or rejects story ideas
Jeff Fager on what journalists can learn from Mike Wallace and Ed Bradley about conducting interviews
Jeff Fager on stories he worked on as producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather in London
Jeff Fager on the process of developing stories for 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on the process of editing and occasionally reshooting stories on 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on moving from producer to executive producer after having gathered enough experience in the field to be an effective editor of others' stories
Jeff Fager on being executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather at a time when news was becoming more sensational
Jeff Fager on the responsibility he felt in producing news stories in the wake of 9/11
Jeff Fager on bringing on younger correspondents when he became executive producer of 60 Minutes and the importance of diversity
Jeff Fager on balancing his roles as Chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes and his proudest achievements as Chairman
Jeff Fager on concerns over libel claims as a news producer: "these aren't legal issues, they're fairness issues"
Jeff Fager on the most difficult and the most exciting part about being executive producer of 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on the best advice he received on producing a story, from Don Hewitt
Jeff Fager on advice for young journalists
Jeff Fager on the lifestyle of being a journalist

News Producer

View Profession
Jeff Fager on his first job as a producer on the 11 o'clock news at KPIX in San Francisco
Jeff Fager on his first job at CBS News, on the overnight news show, Nightwatch
Jeff Fager on stories he worked on as producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather in London
Jeff Fager on how Don Hewitt's philosophy of news influenced him as producer of 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on producing hard news versus entertainment stories: he prefers "entertaining stories" on CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on the production of 60 Minutes: pitching stories and how he approves or rejects story ideas
Jeff Fager on the process of developing stories for 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on the process of editing and occasionally reshooting stories on 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on moving from producer to executive producer after having gathered enough experience in the field to be an effective editor of others' stories
Jeff Fager on being executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather at a time when news was becoming more sensational
Jeff Fager on the responsibility he felt in producing news stories in the wake of 9/11
Jeff Fager on bringing on younger correspondents when he became executive producer of 60 Minutes and the importance of diversity
Jeff Fager on balancing his roles as Chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes and his proudest achievements as Chairman
Jeff Fager on concerns over libel claims as a news producer: "these aren't legal issues, they're fairness issues"
Jeff Fager on the most difficult and the most exciting part about being executive producer of 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on the best advice he received on producing a story, from Don Hewitt

Television Executive

View Profession
Jeff Fager on becoming Chairman of CBS News in 2011 and changes he made to various CBS News shows
Jeff Fager on balancing his roles as Chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes and his proudest achievements as Chairman
Genres

News and Documentary

View Genre
Jeff Fager on his first job at CBS News, on the overnight news show, Nightwatch
Jeff Fager on CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
Jeff Fager on how 60 Minutes and Don Hewitt were affected by CBS CEO Laurence Tisch
Jeff Fager on becoming a producer on 48 Hours at the beginning of the show
Jeff Fager on 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on 60 Minutes (Part 2)
Jeff Fager on being executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
Jeff Fager on 60 Minutes II
Jeff Fager on 60 Minutes (Part 3)
Jeff Fager on changes he made as Chairman of CBS News
Jeff Fager on 60 Minutes (Part 4)
People

Tom Bettag

View Interview Page
Jeff Fager on covering the Soviet Union for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, including a story where they explored what Russians were proud of, which was assigned by Tom Bettag, head of CBS News

Ed Bradley

View Interview Page
Jeff Fager on his admiration for Ed Bradley's interviewing style and ability
Jeff Fager on working with Ed Bradley at 60 Minutes when Fager became executive producer of the show

Katie Couric

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Jeff Fager on replacing Katie Couric with Scott Pelley as anchor of CBS Evening News

Fred Friendly

View Person Page
Jeff Fager on why he was excited by working at 60 Minutes and how Don Hewitt's philosophy (which was formed in part by Hewitt having been fired by Fred Friendly) informed the program: "He couldn't stand being involved in television that was boring."

Don Hewitt

View Interview Page
Jeff Fager on changes at CBS when Laurence Tisch became CEO in 1986 and how they affected 60 Minutes and the show's creator, Don Hewitt
Jeff Fager on a conflict between then-CEO of CBS Laurence Tisch and 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt over the story of tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Winger, who alleged that the tobacco industry knew the addictive and deadly nature of cigarettes
Jeff Fager on why he was excited by working at 60 Minutes and how Don Hewitt's philosophy informed the program: "He couldn't stand being involved in television that was boring."
Jeff Fager on how Don Hewitt's philosophy of news influenced him as producer of 60 Minutes
Jeff Fager on producing Steve Kroft's first story for 60 Minutes and producing a story that Don Hewitt hated
Jeff Fager on becoming executive producer of 60 Minutes, a position which he took over from the show's founder, Don Hewitt
Jeff Fager on the best advice he received on producing a story, from Don Hewitt

Steve Kroft

View Interview Page
Jeff Fager on producing Steve Kroft's first story for 60 Minutes and producing a story that Don Hewitt hated

Scott Pelley

View Person Page
Jeff Fager on replacing Katie Couric with Scott Pelley as anchor of CBS Evening News

Dan Rather

View Interview Page
Jeff Fager on Dan Rather's reaction to changes Fager made as executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and Rather's strengths as a journalist
Jeff Fager on the 60 Minutes II "Memogate" scandal, which centered on President George W. Bush's military service and was reported by Dan Rather
Jeff Fager on hiring Dan Rather as a correspondent on 60 Minutes following his dismissal as anchor of CBS Evening News

Andy Rooney

View Interview Page
Jeff Fager on working with Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes

Charlie Rose

View Person Page
Jeff Fager on Charlie Rose's interviews of Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad on 60 Minutes and airing Putin's interview on the same night as an interview with Donald Trump

Morley Safer

View Interview Page
Jeff Fager on competition for stories on 60 Minutes between Mike Wallace and Morley Safer, and others
Jeff Fager on working with Morley Safer at 60 Minutes when Fager became executive producer of the show and his favorite Safer pieces
Jeff Fager on viewing Bob Simon as Morley Safer's replacement on 60 Minutes, and Simon's sudden, tragic death
Jeff Fager on advice Morley Safer gave him about work before he passed away: "don't stay too long"

Diane Sawyer

View Person Page
Jeff Fager on how he got his first job at CBS News (on Nightwatch): by giving Diane Sawyer a ride to the airport

Bob Simon

View Interview Page
Jeff Fager on viewing Bob Simon as Morley Safer's replacement on 60 Minutes, and Simon's sudden, tragic death

Lesley Stahl

View Interview Page
Jeff Fager on working with Lesley Stahl at 60 Minutes

Donald J. Trump

View Person Page
Jeff Fager on Charlie Rose's interviews of Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad on 60 Minutes and airing Putin's interview on the same night as an interview with Donald Trump
Jeff Fager on the 2016 presidential election and how TV news has responded to Donald Trump

Mike Wallace

View Interview Page
Jeff Fager on Mike Wallace's style as a 60 Minutes correspondent, particularly his "ambush" interviews
Jeff Fager on what journalists can learn from Mike Wallace about doing interviews
Jeff Fager on competition for stories on 60 Minutes between Mike Wallace and Morley Safer, and others
Jeff Fager on working with Mike Wallace at 60 Minutes when Fager became executive producer of the show

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