CNN Chief Jeff Zucker Has Resigned After Not Disclosing A Workplace Relationship
Zucker told staff in a memo that he had been asked about the relationship as part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor who was fired in December.
Jeff Zucker — the president of CNN, chair of WarnerMedia News and Sports, and one of the most powerful people in American media — resigned on Wednesday, admitting he had not disclosed a relationship with a subordinate.
Zucker told staff in a memo that he had been asked about the relationship as part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor who was fired in December after a probe found "additional information" about his role in the defense of his brother, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, against sexual harassment allegations.
"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 have worked with for more than 20 years," Zucker said in the memo, which was published by CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter. "I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn't. I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today."
Both CNN and the New York Times reported Zucker's relationship was with Allison Gollust, an executive vice president and CNN's chief marketing officer and chief communications officer. Prior to that role, she served as communications director for then-governor Andrew Cuomo.
Gollust told the New York Times she would be remaining in her role at CNN.
“Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years,” she said. “Recently, our relationship changed during Covid. I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time. I’m incredibly proud of my time at CNN and look forward to continuing the great work we do everyday.”
Both Zucker and Gollust are now divorced, according to the Times.
Photos of the pair at a Billy Joel concert were published last month by Radar Online, which reported they had been in a relationship for several years.
Zucker is just the latest high-profile figure to have resigned or been ousted amid the fallout from the Cuomo scandal, but unlike the others, Zucker did not lose his job by advising or supporting the former governor.
In addition to the governor's brother, Alphonso David was fired as Human Rights Campaign president, Tina Tchen and Roberta Kaplan resigned from Time's Up, and Jim Malatras resigned as the chancellor of the State University of New York.
Zucker had already announced a year ago he was intending to step down in about 12 months, but this was later put off. NBC also reported last year that Gollust was a leading candidate to take over CNN.
Zucker was previously president and CEO of NBCUniversal. His career in US media exploded thanks to his successful tenure as executive producer of the Today show.
At CNN, he was widely credited with transforming the cable news channel into a higher-rated network driven by personalities and ongoing sagas like the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
He was also accused of lifting the nascent candidacy of Donald Trump in 2015 thanks to obsessive, wall-to-wall coverage. The two men knew each other well as Zucker was the executive who oversaw Trump's reality show, The Apprentice.
After Trump's election and attacks against his coverage on CNN, the network pivoted under Zucker to become a fierce critic of his presidency.