September 25, 2022

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Jeff Zucker resigns from CNN over consensual relationship with key lieutenant

Zucker’s beautiful announcement came fewer than two months just 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 component of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was questioned about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, a person I have worked with for far more than 20 decades,” Zucker advised staff members in a memo. “I acknowledged the partnership progressed in latest decades. I was demanded to disclose it when it commenced but I did not. I was improper. As a outcome, I am resigning nowadays.”

Zucker did not name his colleague, but the marriage is with Allison Gollust, his critical lieutenant for the last two many years. Gollust is remaining at CNN.

Zucker and Gollust commenced working together at NBC in 1998. They rose by way of the ranks at the community alongside one another, and when Zucker joined CNN, Gollust was amongst his initially hires. Just before coming to CNN Gollust experienced worked briefly as communications director for Andrew Cuomo. She is at this time government vice president and chief advertising officer at CNN.

In a statement of her very own, Gollust said, “Jeff and I have been close close friends and experienced companions for in excess of 20 a long time. A short while ago, our relationship improved through COVID. I regret that we failed to disclose it at the correct time. I am exceptionally proud of my time at CNN and search ahead to continuing the fantastic perform we do each day.”

Zucker and Gollust both of those divorced from their companions several years back. Rumors that their near working romantic relationship experienced morphed into a romantic 1 have lengthy been the matter of speculation and have sometimes surfaced in gossip columns. The journalist Katie Couric, who at the time labored carefully with Zucker, but later on had a falling-out with him, even hinted at it in her inform-all memoir launched final year.

Information of Zucker’s resignation sent shockwaves within CNN and throughout the marketplace. CNN staff had no idea what was coming prior to Zucker’s email landed in their inboxes soon right after 11 a.m. ET.

Zucker spoke with some of CNN’s top executives on Wednesday morning, soon just before he announced his departure. He indicated that he would have preferred to continue to be on for a brief period, to assist with a sleek transition, but WarnerMedia needed in any other case.

According to two men and women associated in the make any difference, Zucker was going through termination if he did not resign.

Underscoring just how unforeseen the news was, some of Zucker’s immediate experiences were being out of the workplace and touring on Wednesday.

Kilar, who flew to New York to oversee the changeover, stepped in to operate the Wednesday conference Zucker commonly holds with his best executive workforce.

Kilar also programs to meet up with with staffers in Washington and Atlanta, a supply claimed.

WarnerMedia is in the method of merging with Discovery. Many media observers considered Zucker was in line for a marketing when that deal is finish. That is not the only motive this is a pivotal time for the network: CNN programs to start an formidable streaming services, CNN+, in the spring, and it also requirements to roll out a new 9 p.m. plan to swap Cuomo.

In an electronic mail to staffers Wednesday afternoon, Jason Kilar, the CEO of CNN parent WarnerMedia, explained 3 senior executives will direct CNN right until the merger with Discovery is complete: Michael Bass, Amy Entelis, and Ken Jautz.

“I have entire self-confidence that Michael, Amy and Ken, as interim heads for News, will present the leadership this firm demands for the duration of this time of changeover,” Kilar said, adding that personnel will “listen to additional” from the a few executives “in the coming days.”

Zucker, with Gollust on his leadership workforce, took in excess of CNN in 2013, at a time when field observers said the network was experiencing an identification crisis.

Zucker revamped the network’s programming. A veteran of NBC, in which he climbed from a producer on the “Currently” show to president of the entire network, Zucker introduced an eye for information and talent. He also introduced a hands-on administration design and style and obtained the have confidence in and respect of expertise and staffers in the course of the community.

In modern decades, Zucker led the community as it confronted sustained assaults from former President Trump and his supporters. Underneath Zucker, CNN adopted a “Info Very first” slogan and strategy to the information and was unrelenting in contacting out Trump for his lies.

The tactic turned Zucker into a villain for Trump, with the then-president lashing out at him all through his many years in place of work. Zucker also grew to become a standard boogeyman in proper-wing media, with Fox hosts viciously attacking him in prime time.

It was all proof of Zucker’s greater-than-lifetime standing in the information company and influence in excess of the broader discourse in American politics.

Fallout from Cuomo scandal

Zucker defended Chris Cuomo for the much better section of a calendar year even though critics claimed the anchorman should really have been benched or worse for what was then publicly recognised about how he’d recommended his brother. Zucker sooner or later fired Cuomo in early December, just after further revelations about how the brothers worked alongside one another to beat the allegations versus Andrew.

Ahead of getting action, CNN retained Cravath, a white-shoe regulation company, to review the Cuomo make any difference.

When Cuomo was fired, CNN reported that Cravath’s results on your own were “trigger to terminate.” But the network also claimed it had obtained an allegation of sexual misconduct from a “previous junior colleague” versus Chris Cuomo. Although Cuomo denied the allegation, a CNN spokesperson claimed at the time, “When new allegations arrived to us this week, we took them seriously, and saw no rationale to hold off having speedy motion.”

Cravath has continued its probe, in accordance to sources acquainted with the issue. One particular complicating component is Cuomo’s ongoing lawful struggle with CNN, which is evidently why Zucker was questioned about his romance with Gollust, a single of the resources mentioned.

According to WarnerMedia’s Requirements of Business Perform handbook, “staff have to not seek the services of or supervise (directly or indirectly) anyone with whom they have a personalized relationship, and if you are in a placement to influence the employment, improvement or selecting of someone with whom you have a own connection or a business they are connected with or have an curiosity in, you ought to notify the HR division in progress of getting any motion.”