CNN president Jeff Zucker on Wednesday announced his resignation, citing a relationship with his colleague that came up as part of the investigation into ousted anchor Chris Cuomo’s tenure at the network.
“I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years,” Zucker said in his announcement to CNN staffers. “I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong.”
“As a result, I am resigning today,” Zucker said.
Although Zucker didn’t reveal the name of the colleague in his memo, CNN confirmed that he is in a relationship with Allison Gollust, the chief marketing officer for the network.
Gollust told the New York Times in a statement on Wednesday that she is remaining in her role at CNN.
“Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years,” Gollust said in a statement to the Times. “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.”
Both Zucker and Gollust are divorced.
CNN reported later Wednesday that Zucker spoke with some of the network’s top executives that morning, prior to announcing his resignation. Zucker reportedly indicated that he preferred to stay on for a shorter period to help facilitate a smooth transition. But WarnerMedia, of which CNN is a division, disagreed with Zucker.
Two people involved in the matter reportedly told CNN that Zucker faced termination if he did not voluntarily resign.
Prior to announcing his resignation, Zucker came under fire for defending Cuomo for months after reports revealed that the then-CNN anchor advised aides of his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), as sexual misconduct allegations against the governor surfaced. The allegations ultimately led to the disgraced governor’s resignation.
However, months after standing by Chris Cuomo, Zucker stopped defending the anchor. CNN later said that “additional information” had come to light in December as a result of CNN retaining a law firm to review Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense. Cuomo was fired from CNN afterward.
New York attorney general Letitia James’s office also grilled Chris Cuomo, who testified via video last year as part of an investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against the then-governor.
CNN’s firing of Cuomo came days after the network suspended him, citing the New York Attorney General’s release of transcripts and exhibits from the anchor’s testimony to the AG that the network said raised “serious questions” about his involvement in defending his brother.
The CNN anchor reportedly tried to track down news coverage of the allegations being made against his brother. The documents released by the NY attorney general’s office included text messages between Chris Cuomo and former top aide to Andrew Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa, that suggested that the CNN anchor assisted in crafting a defense and used his connections in media to do so.