Was Jeff Zucker's Ouster Chris Cuomo's Revenge?

CNN's Jake Tapper raises the possibility
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2022 1:35 PM CST
Was Jeff Zucker's Ouster Chis Cuomo's Revenge?
Jeff Zucker in a file photo.   (Photo by Jason Mendez/Invision/AP, File)

Jeff Zucker fired longtime CNN anchor Chris Cuomo last year. Is Zucker's forced resignation from the network Cuomo's revenge? The Wall Street Journal reports that CNN's Jake Tapper raised the possibility in an employee Q&A with Jason Kilar, chief executive of CNN parent company WarnerMedia.

  • A threat? Tapper said that when Cuomo was negotiating his exit, he hired a lawyer who threatened to leak damaging info about Zucker. “An outside observer might say, ‘Well, it looks like Chris Cuomo succeeded,'" said Tapper. “He threatened Jeff. Jeff said we don’t negotiate with terrorists. And Chris blew the place up. How do we get past that perception that this is the bad guy winning?” Cuomo didn't respond to a request for comment, and WarnerMedia says it won't discuss personnel issues.

  • The relationship: Zucker was forced out after his undisclosed romantic relationship with CNN marketing exec Allison Gollust came to light. The New York Post, describing it as the "worst-kept secret in TV," reports that it goes back more than a decade. Gollust, however, asserted in a statement via CNN media writer Brian Stelter that while she and Zucker have known each other a long time, their relationship only became intimate during the pandemic. The two are both divorced.
  • Skeptical: Former CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien isn't so sure about Gollust's claim. "I encourage you to google the two parties and read the details about their relationship that dates back years," she tweeted. "That said, I’m sure company emails can easily determine if she’s lying in this statement. Again—It was an open secret and I haven’t even worked there for like 8 years."

  • Stelter: The CNN media writer also is taking heat in all this. If the Zucker-Gollust relationship was indeed an open secret, why did he not report on it long ago? A Daily Mail piece quoting an unnamed CNN insider to that effect was in wide circulation Thursday. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air also accused Stelter of hypocrisy for his handling of this controversy and a multifaceted one involving both Chris and Andrew Cuomo before that. (Chris Cuomo, then a CNN anchor, was advising his brother, then the governor of New York, amid a sexual misconduct scandal. Gollust, by the way, once served as Andrew Cuomo's communication chief.) "Stelter’s no media critic: he’s a corporate flack," writes Morrissey.
(More Jeff Zucker stories.)

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