CNN skims over Jeff Zucker’s shock exit after office romance

CNN President Jeff Zucker announced on Wednesday that he was quitting over a romantic relationship with his “closest colleague,” much to the shock and dismay of many co-workers.

“As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I’ve worked with for over 20 years,” he said. wrote Zucker in a shocking note to staff Wednesday morning. “I acknowledged that the relationship had evolved over the past few years. I was required to disclose it when it started, but I didn’t. I was wrong.

“As a result, I resign today.”

Although Zucker did not name the “close colleague” he shared a relationship with, CNN reported that it was CNN chief marketing officer Allison Gollust who would remain with the network.

“Jeff and I have been close friends and business partners for over 20 years. Recently, our relationship changed during COVID. I regret that we didn’t reveal it at the right time,” Gollus added in a separate statement. “I’m incredibly proud of my time at CNN and look forward to continuing the great work we do every day.”

Zucker and Gollus are divorced. Their close relationship had raised eyebrows before this week, as Katie Couric noted in his recent memoirs that when he helped launch the former Today On the show host’s short-lived syndicated show, Zucker pressed her to hire Gollus to oversee publicity. “I had to wonder why Jeff was fishing so hard to get Allison on board,” Couric said. “She, her husband and children had moved into the apartment directly above Jeff and [his then-wife] Caryn’s – everyone who heard of their cozy arrangement thought it was super weird.

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar added in a staff-wide memo obtained by The Daily Beast that network executives Michael Bass, Amy Entelis and Ken Jautz will serve as network co-heads in the interim. .

The immediate reactions within CNN ranged from shock to outrage.

“People are pissed” about Zucker’s ousting, a CNN executive told The Daily Beast. “Nobody thinks the punishment fits the crime.”

“Notice that Zucker mentioned how this came from the Cuomo investigation,” a senior CNN source said. “People think it’s clearly Cuomo dragging Zucker down his path.” (Cuomo was fired by the network late last year after it was revealed he dug up dirt on women who accused his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, of sexual misconduct. A “livid” Cuomo reportedly “prepared” to sue the network and hired powerful entertainment attorney Bryan Freedman.)

Prior to Cuomo’s firing, Zucker and the veteran TV reporter were considered close, with the CNN boss personally recruiting Cuomo from ABC News and sticking by his side for months amid his brother-related scandal. Gollus, meanwhile, also has longstanding ties to the Cuomo family, as she briefly served as Governor Cuomo’s director of communications a decade ago.

According to the New York TimesZucker’s exit was precipitated when Cravath, Swaine & Moore, the law firm retained by CNN to investigate Cuomo’s tenure, began questioning Zucker and Gollus about their relationship.

Still, several CNN stars who spoke with The Daily Beast expressed dismay at his abrupt exit.

“I came to this network with Jeff,” CNN political analyst and former host SE Cupp told The Daily Beast. “I don’t know this network without Jeff. A breathtaking turn of events and an unknown future.

CNN on-air personality Ana Navarro added, “I have incredible respect and affection for Jeff Zucker…When Trump’s reps pressured him to fire me, they basically said fuck off. He staunchly defended me and other members of the network who were targeted by Trump, even when it was hard and it had consequences. I like the guy.

“We are all devastated,” said New day co-host Alisyn Camerota. “Jeff is loved here. We all know we’ll never find a smarter or more compassionate boss.

“Jeff Zucker is gone, congratulations to all!” former President Donald Trump wrote in a dizzying statement celebrating Zucker’s exit.

“The guy who arguably made Trump president is stepping down in disgrace,” a CNN staffer told The Daily Beast, referring to the running criticism that Zucker – via his previous role as NBC executive overseeing Trump’s reality TV shows and then as CNN chief overseeing the relentless coverage of Trump’s 2016 campaign effectively created a destructive media force that became president.

Zucker’s sudden departure comes just as CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia, is set to merge with Discovery following an AT&T spin-off.

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