CNN President Jeff Zucker resigned from the cable news network, citing his failure to disclose a consensual relationship with a close colleague.
“I was wrong,” Zucker wrote in a note to CNN’s staff. He said he disclosed the nature of his relationship with the network’s chief marketing officer when asked as part of the network’s investigation into former star host Chris Cuomo.
Several CNN staffers said they were shocked by Zucker’s announcement. Few were surprised by the identity of the executive, however. In a statement, marketing chief Allison Gollust said their relationship, which she described as a close professional and personal rapport built over more than two decades, had deepened into a romantic tie during the pandemic. Gollust wrote that she would be staying at the network.
Both Zucker and Gollust are divorced. Their relationship had inspired tabloid coverage; Gollust had previously worked closely with Zucker during his tenure at NBC. Former Today Show host Katie Couric, who had been a close friend of Zucker as he rose through the ranks at NBC, wrote in her recent memoir that she suspected a relationship between Zucker and Gollust years earlier.
Zucker had been at CNN since 2013 and had been expected to leave later this year. But, he said he would stay through AT&T’s sale of parent Warner Media to Discovery. It is projected to happen this spring following a review by federal regulators.
“I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently,” he wrote to CNN employees. “But it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute.”
Gollust had been mentioned as a strong internal candidate to succeed him.
CNN stays in the news for all the wrong reasons.