WarnerMedia News and Sports chairman Jeff Zucker has stunned CNN, and the news industry at large, by announcing his resignation, effective immediately.
In a note to his colleagues, first tweeted out by CNN’s media reporter Brian Stelter, Zucker mentions that as part of the Chris Cuomo investigation, he was asked about a “consensual relationship” with his colleague, Allison Gollust, who is CNN’s evp, chief marketing officer and lead spokesperson. Zucker and Gollust, both divorced, have known each other since their days at NBC News.
“I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong,” Zucker wrote.
Gollust said in a statement on Wednesday that she was remaining in her role at CNN: “Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years,” adding, “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.”
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said in a statement that he had accepted Zucker’s resignation, adding, “We thank Jeff for his contributions over the past 9 years. 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.”
We heard from a source close to the matter that Chris Cuomo’s lawyers have been working on a settlement since the anchor was fired last year, and his lawyers raised issues about the relationship between Zucker and Gollust. Zucker didn’t disclose the relationship when it began, and Kilar asked him to resign because of it.
Gollust joined CNN in March 2013 as svp of communications, not long after Zucker joined as president of the network. She earned the title of chief marketing officer months later, and rose to evp. In between stops at NBCUniversal and CNN, Gollust served as communications director for then-New York governor Andrew Cuomo. However, Gollust left that role after only four months to reunite with Zucker.
Zucker arrived at CNN in 2013 following more 25 years at NBCUniversal. He took over NBC’s Today show when he was just 26 and rose through the ranks to become the company’s president and CEO from 2007-2011. Zucker was elevated to chairman of WarnerMedia news and sports in March 2019.
He had initially planned to leave CNN and WarnerMedia last year, but his plans changed following news of the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger, which is anticipated to close in the second quarter. That combined company will be run by Discovery chairman and CEO David Zaslav, a close friend, and Zucker was expected to have a big role in what will be called Warner Bros. Discovery.