CNN’s Jeff Zucker resigns for not disclosing relationship with colleague

CNN President Jeff Zucker (above, in 2018) said he had failed to acknowledge a consensual relationship with a close colleague. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Jeff Zucker said on Wednesday (Feb 2) he is resigning as president of CNN and chairman of WarnerMedia’s news and sports division, issuing a staff memo in which he acknowledged he failed to disclose a consensual relationship with a close colleague.

“As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague,” Zucker wrote in the memo. “I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t.”

Zucker could not immediately be reached for comment.

He did not name his colleague in the memo, but the relationship was with Allison Gollust, the chief marketing officer for the network, CNN anchor Brian Stelter said during a broadcast on Wednesday, adding she was remaining at CNN.

“Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years,” Stelter quoted Gollust as saying in a separate memo of her own issued on Wednesday.

“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 every day.”

CNN is part of AT&T-owned WarnerMedia, which is being spun off in a US$43 billion (S$58 billion) transaction with Discovery.

Although Zucker had indicated he planned to retire from CNN, he was expected to play a prominent role in the new Warner Bros Discovery. Zucker and Discovery chief executive officer David Zaslav, who will lead Warner Bros Discovery, are former colleagues and friends.

In a memo to staff, WarnerMedia chief executive officer Jason Kilar wrote he accepted Zucker’s resignation and would announce an interim leadership plan shortly.

Zucker, who joined CNN in 2013, has a storied reputation in the TV business marked by early success. He was the executive producer of NBC’s Today show in his 20s, then became the president of NBC Entertainment.

Born and raised in Miami, Zucker has four children and resides in New York City, according to a profile on CNN’s website.

Zucker said his relationship came to light during the network’s investigation into the conduct of Chris Cuomo, a primetime CNN anchor who was fired in December for assisting his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was accused of sexual misconduct.

Andrew Cuomo has said his accusers had misinterpreted his words, gestures and demeanour.

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