Feb 2, 2022 - Economy & Business

The Cuomos' featured role in Jeff Zucker's demise

Jeff Zucker and Chris Cuomo
Jeff Zucker and Chris Cuomo. Photo: Desiree Navarro/WireImage

CNN boss Jeff Zucker's previously undisclosed relationship with a longtime senior colleague, which led his resignation Wednesday, was with CNN chief marketing officer Allison Gollust.

Why it matters: Gollust had once served as the communications director for former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. CNN fired anchor Chris Cuomo for breaching media ethics by advising his brother, the former governor, during the sexual misconduct investigation that led to his resignation.

  • Former Gov. Cuomo's profile soared thanks to CNN airtime — including Chris interviewing Andrew — in 2020.

The big picture: In a memo reported by CNN, Gollust said: "Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years. Recently, our relationship changed during COVID. I regret that we didn't disclose it at the right time."

  • Gollust reported directly to Zucker, sources told Axios.
  • CNN parent company WarnerMedia's policy prohibits relationships with those you hire or supervise.
  • It requires disclosure to HR "if you are in a position to influence the employment, advancement or hiring of someone with whom you have a personal relationship."
A CNN screenshot of Jeff Zucker and his statement
Screenshot: CNN

State of play: Zucker's resignation shocked staffers who'd thought the CNN Worldwide president was invincible.

  • In a note to staff tweeted by CNN's Brian Stelter, Zucker said that as a part of CNN's investigation into Chris Cuomo last year, he was asked about a consensual relationship with a colleague.
  • "I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began and I didn't. I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today."

The relationship was an open secret, CNN sources told Axios.

  • CNN staff started to take notice when RadarOnline published a story on Zucker’s relationship in early January.

Between the lines: Zucker left without a clear succession plan.

  • CNN executives Michael Bass, Amy Entelis and Ken Jautz will serve as "interim co-heads for CNN," WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar told staff.
  • CNN and WarnerMedia parent AT&T didn't respond to a request for comment. WarnerMedia and Jeff Zucker declined to comment.

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