LAffaire Zucker: Why Did CNNs President Really Leave?

In the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, which brought down a number of high-profile industry players — including former CBS chief Leslie Moonves, former “Today” host Matt Lauer and former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes — such misconduct is no longer tolerated. Chris was axed from CNN for advising Andrew on the sexual harassment complaints that ended the Democrat’s time in office. Zucker, 56, also stepped down as chair of WarnerMedia’s news and sports division. Well-known former CNN personalities said on social media that while the news of the resignation might be shocking, Zucker and Gollust's relationship was an open secret.

His last site start-up was a Phase I unit , where he gained significant early phase experience. Matt Lauer’s relationships with vulnerable young staffers were said to be a well-known secret throughout Zucker’s tenure at NBC. We are told that Zucker, 1uiet publicly since his departure from CNN, sees this as a chance to move on and pursue the next chapter of his career. In terms of moving on, as a part of the agreement with WarnerMedia, the one-time NBCUniversal head honcho has waived any future right or intention to pursue litigation against his old corporate overlords.

Jeff Zucker

"I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn't," he said. He led it from wall-to-wall coverage of disasters, including cruise-liners with backed-up toilets and missing airplanes, to the maiden presidential campaign of Donald Trump. As head of NBC's entertainment division years earlier, Zucker had been integral to establishing Trump as a national household name by building the Apprentice reality show franchise around the bombastic real estate developer.

New York ethics panel wants former Gov. Cuomo to turn in the cash from his book deal

Before joining CNN, Zucker was CEO of NBC, having previously led the network’s entertainment division, and serving as executive producer of the Today show. Gollust has worked with Zucker for years, having led his corporate communications team at NBC, and re-joining him at CNN in 2013 (ironically, before joining CNN she worked as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s communications director). A personal relationship had long been rumored between the two among staff and by executives at other companies, although they never disclosed it publicly. Zucker joined CNN in January 2013, transforming the cable news channel with a hands-on approach to programming. He rebooted many of the channel’s daytime hours and turned its primetime lineup into a more analysis- and opinion-driven affair, leaning on talent comfortable with taking hard stances on tough issues like Cuomo and Don Lemon. Zucker, who is an old friend of Zaslav’s, had been seen as a person who could protect CNN, its content, and its budgets, after the merger.

  • While Zucker did not name the “close colleague” with whom he shared a relationship, CNN reported that it was Allison Gollust, CNN’s chief marketing officer, who will remain with the network.
  • One expects Lemon to feel this way, since Zucker plucked him from his weekend anchor post and gave him his own weeknight show in prime time.
  • Instead of a courtroom, Jeff went straight from college graduation to NBC for a research job and then a producer’s position at the Today show.
  • Zucker kept the industry guessing about his next moves after a successful run at CNN that began in 2013 and led to him vastly expanding the channel’s newsgathering for digital and linear platforms.

Gollust briefly worked for the governor's office as a communications director before joining CNN. Cuomo was investigated by the network for aiding his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, against sexual misconduct allegations. In a memo to staff, WarnerMedia Chief Executive Jason Kilar wrote he accepted Zucker's resignation and would announce an interim leadership plan shortly.

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Zucker's exit comes almost exactly a year after CNN reported that he was close to an exit but decided to stay on with the network until at least the end of 2021. A former NBC executive, Zucker joined CNN in 2013 to help help the worldwide operation. An email to staff, obtained by NBC News, confirmed that WarnerMedia chief executive Jason Kilar accepted Zucker’s resignation. The decision came after he was asked about a “consensual relationship with my closest colleague” as part of the investigation into former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. CNN faces uncertainty over the future of its programming under Mr. Licht.

Yet inside CNN, which Zucker led for nine years, staffers are bereft; Don Lemon and Fareed Zakaria both shared statements of gratitude on their shows. Zucker’s willingness to stand by CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin after he was caught masturbating during a Zoom meeting with colleagues from the New Yorker rankled many female employees at the network. However, when the company learned of the relationship with Gollust, WarnerMedia Chief Executive Jason Kilar immediately recognized that Zucker had violated the company’s ethics policies, the insider said. His exit marks a dramatic fall for one of the industry’s most prominent media figures and comes at a crucial time for WarnerMedia, which is planning to finalize its merger with Discovery Inc. later this year. Zucker’s sudden departure was announced in a memo sent to CNN employees, sending shock waves through the WarnerMedia unit.

CNN President Jeff Zucker resigned Wednesday for failing to disclose a romantic relationship with a high-ranking colleague who once served as communications director to ex-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. As CNN president, Zucker’s first hires included Chris Cuomo and Gollust, who resigned from her position in the governor’s office, where she’d been working less than six months. At first, she reported to the network’s senior vice president for Turner Broadcasting, but within seven months, she began reporting directly to Zucker. CNN president Jeff Zucker has resigned from the network after failing to disclose a romantic relationship with a senior executive. Mr. Zucker rose to prominence in the early 1990s when he became the wunderkind executive producer of NBC’s “Today” show and made stars of Matt Lauer and Katie Couric.


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