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'60 Minutes' Executive Producer Jeff Fager Responds To Criticism Of Golf Stories

(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Writing on the Huffington Post, law student Ankush Khardori offers a criticism of the number stories about golfers on "60 Minutes" this season. (There have been three – on Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie and John Daly.) "Now, individually, all of these pieces may have been justifiable by their potential news value, but CBS happens to have a unique interest in seeing these athletes get prime publicity -- the network is one of several that airs PGA events. That fact renders the relatively high number of golfer profiles in recent weeks somewhat suspect, particularly since 60 Minutes is supposed to be a news show, and although they run fluffy, largely news-less profiles all the time, obliquely promoting sports events on their own network should still be beneath them."

Khardori concludes:

Amidst these lingering questions, it's hard not to recall that, last October, then-President of CBS News Andrew Heyward was replaced by Sean McManus, who had been the head of CBS Sports since 1996. McManus, however, in a somewhat strange move, was to keep his job at the helm of CBS Sports while also running CBS News. Is it possible that the two divisions have become linked in a much more significant, tangible way? Surely there's a line between legitimate cross-promotion and a more peculiar and distasteful form of news-as-sportscast. Has it been crossed by one of the most venerable news shows to have ever existed?
I asked "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager to respond. He first addressed the claim that "60 Minutes" had done too many stories about golfers this season.

"The criticism is correct," he said. "We shouldn't have done three golfers this year. It's unfortunate it worked out that way. We were committed to one, and then another came up that became irresistible, and then Tiger Woods became a possibility." He noted that the show had been trying to get the Woods story "for 10 years."

He also said, however, that McManus' arrival at the news division had nothing to do with this season's focus on golfers. "To suggest this has something to do with Sean McManus coming from sports is absurd," said Fager. "He's hoping for us to do good, interesting stories. He's focused on news. He's not pushing sports on us."