The chairman of Warner Media news and sports, and the president of CNN Jeff Zucker has resigned. In a memo, Zucker bowed out following a question about a personal relationship with a close associate as part of the network’s investigation into Chris Cuomo. The associate was Allison Gollust, who champions advertising and communications for CNN, according to Brian Stelter from CNN.
The resigned chief stated that his relationship sprang up during a network investigation into the conduct of Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor who was fired in December over his involvement in the political affairs of his brother, former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York.
“I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today,” Zucker wrote
“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 told Stelter in a statement
“We will be announcing an interim leadership plan shortly. Both of these organizations are at the top of their respective games and are well prepared for their next chapters,” he wrote.
Zucker’s takeoff is the newest example of fallout arising from the investigation into former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The investigation ultimately led to CNN firing host Chris Cuomo, and compelled Time’s Up to effectively shut down and restructure itself following top executives that were found to be sounding boards for the governor.
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.
CNN’s success has always been closely tied to the news cycle, with 2020 and 2021 ending up as the most-watched and second most-watched years in the channel’s 40-year history. Zucker departs the channel as it prepares to launch its biggest project yet: A direct-to-consumer streaming service called CNN+. He had previously pledged to stay at CNN until parent company Warner Media completed its merger with Discovery Inc. He had often been named as someone who could take on a broader portfolio at the combined company, given his close relationship with Discovery CEO David Zaslav.
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.