Jeff Zucker resigns from CNN over consensual relationship with key lieutenant

Zucker’s beautiful announcement came significantly less than two months right after he fired primary time anchor Chris Cuomo for improperly advising his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, about how to tackle sexual misconduct allegations.

“As element of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was questioned about a consensual romantic relationship with my closest colleague, anyone I have labored with for extra than 20 several years,” Zucker instructed workforce in a memo. “I acknowledged the romance evolved in latest several years. I was required to disclose it when it started but I failed to. I was completely wrong. As a consequence, I am resigning currently.”

Zucker did not name his colleague, but the connection is with Allison Gollust, his important lieutenant for the previous two decades. Gollust is remaining at CNN.

Zucker and Gollust began doing the job alongside one another at NBC in 1998. They rose by way of the ranks at the community jointly, and when Zucker joined CNN, Gollust was among the his 1st hires. Just in advance of coming to CNN Gollust had worked briefly as communications director for Andrew Cuomo. She is at this time govt vice president and chief promoting officer at CNN.

In a statement of her own, Gollust claimed, “Jeff and I have been shut close friends and experienced companions for over 20 decades. Just lately, our marriage altered all through COVID. I regret that we did not disclose it at the right time. I’m amazingly happy of my time at CNN and look ahead to continuing the excellent perform we do every day.”

Zucker and Gollust equally divorced from their associates yrs back. Rumors that their near functioning marriage experienced morphed into a romantic just one have extensive been the matter of speculation and have occasionally surfaced in gossip columns. The journalist Katie Couric, who the moment worked closely with Zucker, but later on experienced a falling-out with him, even hinted at it in her tell-all memoir launched last year.

News of Zucker’s resignation sent shockwaves inside of CNN and throughout the business. CNN staff had no idea what was coming right before Zucker’s e mail landed in their inboxes soon following 11 a.m. ET.

Zucker spoke with some of CNN’s leading executives on Wednesday morning, shortly ahead of he declared his departure. He indicated that he would have liked to remain on for a brief period of time, to assist with a easy changeover, but WarnerMedia required in any other case.

In accordance to two men and women concerned in the make any difference, Zucker was experiencing termination if he did not resign.

Underscoring just how surprising the information was, some of Zucker’s immediate reports were out of the office and touring on Wednesday.

Kilar, who flew to New York to oversee the transition, stepped in to run the Wednesday conference Zucker typically holds with his major government crew.

Kilar also options to meet up with with staffers in Washington and Atlanta, a supply said.

WarnerMedia is in the process of merging with Discovery. Several media observers considered Zucker was in line for a advertising the moment that deal is comprehensive. That is not the only rationale this is a pivotal time for the network: CNN programs to launch an ambitious streaming provider, CNN+, in the spring, and it also wants to roll out a new 9 p.m. plan to replace Cuomo.

In an e-mail to staffers Wednesday afternoon, Jason Kilar, the CEO of CNN guardian WarnerMedia, mentioned 3 senior executives will guide CNN until finally the merger with Discovery is entire: Michael Bass, Amy Entelis, and Ken Jautz.

“I have entire self-assurance that Michael, Amy and Ken, as interim heads for News, will present the management this firm requirements all through this time of changeover,” Kilar said, incorporating that staff will “hear far more” from the three executives “in the coming days.”

Zucker, with Gollust on his leadership workforce, took about CNN in 2013, at a time when marketplace observers said the network was dealing with an identification disaster.

Zucker revamped the network’s programming. A veteran of NBC, wherever he climbed from a producer on the “Nowadays” display to president of the total community, Zucker introduced an eye for information and expertise. He also brought a arms-on administration style and obtained the belief and regard of talent and staffers in the course of the community.

In latest a long time, Zucker led the community as it confronted sustained assaults from previous President Trump and his supporters. Underneath Zucker, CNN adopted a “Facts Initially” slogan and tactic to the news and was unrelenting in calling out Trump for his lies.

The tactic turned Zucker into a villain for Trump, with the then-president lashing out at him for the duration of his years in office environment. Zucker also grew to become a frequent boogeyman in proper-wing media, with Fox hosts viciously attacking him in key time.

It was all evidence of Zucker’s much larger-than-life standing in the news business enterprise and impact about the broader discourse in American politics.

Fallout from Cuomo scandal

Zucker defended Chris Cuomo for the improved portion of a yr whilst critics explained the anchorman ought to have been benched or worse for what was then publicly recognised about how he’d suggested his brother. Zucker ultimately fired Cuomo in early December, following further revelations about how the brothers worked with each other to combat the allegations towards Andrew.

Right before taking motion, CNN retained Cravath, a white-shoe legislation business, to review the Cuomo subject.

When Cuomo was fired, CNN mentioned that Cravath’s conclusions by yourself ended up “induce to terminate.” But the community also said it had been given an allegation of sexual misconduct from a “former junior colleague” from Chris Cuomo. However Cuomo denied the allegation, a CNN spokesperson stated at the time, “When new allegations arrived to us this week, we took them very seriously, and saw no purpose to hold off taking speedy motion.”

Cravath has ongoing its probe, according to sources common with the issue. One complicating element is Cuomo’s ongoing legal battle with CNN, which is evidently why Zucker was questioned about his relationship with Gollust, a person of the sources reported.

In accordance to WarnerMedia’s Expectations of Business enterprise Carry out handbook, “workforce will have to not employ or supervise (specifically or indirectly) a person with whom they have a particular romance, and if you are in a position to impact the work, improvement or using the services of of a person with whom you have a private connection or a company they are involved with or have an desire in, you ought to notify the HR department in advance of having any action.”