CNN President Jeff Zucker resigned Wednesday for failing to disclose a romantic relationship with a top-ranking colleague who once served as communications director to ex-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Zucker, 56, in a memo sent to staff said that he should have admitted to that relationship with CNN executive Allison Gollust when was asked about it during a recent probe by the network of Chris Cuomo, who at the time was a host of a prime-time show there.
Chris Cuomo was fired in early December after CNN said it had obtained new information about his controversial role in advising his brother Andrew during a sexual harassment scandal, which itself had ultimately led to the governor’s resignation last summer.
“As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years,” Zucker said.
“I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong,” said Zucker, who like Gollust is divorced.
“As a result, I am resigning today.”
“I came to CNN on January 28, 2013. Together, we had nine great years. I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently. But it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute.”
Zucker had previously served as president and CEO of NBC Universal, the parent company of CNBC. Gollust herself previously was chief of communications at NBC Universal.
CNN declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.
But CNN’s own journalists reported that “Zucker’s resignation left staffers inside the network in shock.”
Gollust, who was not identified by name in Zucker’s statement, is the executive vice president and chief marketing officer for CNN Worldwide. She is keeping her job.
In a statement read on CNN by Brian Stelter, the network’s media reporter, 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. I’m incredibly proud of my time at CNN and look forward to continuing the great work we do everyday,” Gollust said.
Gollust joined CNN as its communications director in February 2013, just weeks after Zucker started there. She had spent on four months as Andrew Cuomo’s communications director.
Jason Kilar, CEO of CNN’s parent WarnerMedia, in a statement to employees, said,”We thank Jeff for his contributions over the past 9 years.We will be announcing an interim leadership plan shortly,” Kilar said.
– Additional reporting by CNBC’s Alex Sherman
This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.
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