Following the WarnerMedia investigation into Cuomo and Zucker, Allison Gollust resigns from CNN

Following the WarnerMedia investigation into Cuomo and Zucker, Allison Gollust resigns from CNN

"I understand this news is difficult, disheartening, and, frankly, unpleasant to read," he continued

Updated on February 16, 2022 14:32 PM by Andrew Koschiev

According to a message from CNN CEO Jason Kilar, Allison Gollust has resigned as the network's senior marketing officer due to WarnerMedia's inquiry into "problems linked with Chris Cuomo and former Governor Andrew Cuomo."

"The inquiry, which was conducted by a third-party law firm and supervised by a former federal judge, was thorough and conclusive. "It was commissioned in September and completed this weekend, allowing me to share more details with you," Kilar added. "The inquiry uncovered violations of Company standards, including CNN's News Standards and Practices, by Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust, and others, based on interviews with more than 40 people and an examination of over 100,000 texts and emails."

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"I understand this news is difficult, disheartening, and, frankly, unpleasant to read," he continued. Many of you are experiencing valid emotions."

Gollust claimed in a statement that WarnerMedia was attempting to discredit her in public. "WarnerMedia's statement tonight is an attempt to retaliate against me and change the media narrative in the aftermath of their poor handling of the last two weeks," says the statement. "It's profoundly disheartening that after nine years of defending and honoring CNN's highest standards of journalistic integrity, I'm being treated in this manner as I depart," she said Tuesday evening. "However, I do so with pride, knowing that I put my heart and soul in working alongside the world's best journalists."

The investigation's findings came only days after Zucker, the former CNN president, abruptly quit, claiming an unreported relationship with Gollust, a longtime lieutenant with whom he also worked at NBCUniversal. It also adds a new dimension to life at CNN, where several of the network's top anchors and correspondents have defended Zucker, citing his support for them over a tumultuous nine-year tenure that portrayed the network in a more aggressive image.

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Gollust was a big feature of that period. She was highly involved in the network's promotion, which strayed from its centrist leanings at times, as evidenced by actor James Earl Jones intoned "This is CNN" in well-worn commercials. CNN adopted the mantra "Go there" under Gollust, and it did so. While not outwardly partisan, the network lost favour in some Republican circles as it honed its journalistic credentials and relied on new promos that pledged to follow "Facts first" as a White House controlled by President Donald Trump frequently muddled the national narrative with gaffes and outright misdirection. Gollust was so closely associated with top CNN operations that she was considered a possible successor to Zucker in some circles.

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All of that has been undermined by the WarnerMedia probe. When Zucker announced his resignation, he highlighted an inquiry into CNN CEO Chris Cuomo, revealing that Cuomo had not reported a consensual relationship with a coworker. And in doing so, he revealed that Cuomo, a popular anchor who used to hold the 9 p.m. slot, was under investigation after Zucker removed him last year. According to sources familiar with the situation, Cuomo has recruited Bryan Freedman, a California entertainment attorney who previously represented Megyn Kelly in her leaving negotiations with NBCUniversal, to try to receive a severance package. During that process, there have been allegations that Zucker and Gollust offered counsel to former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the anchor's brother.

Much of the current disaster could have been avoided if CNN had never permitted Chris Cuomo and Andrew Cuomo to appear together on the former's show during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. CNN disregarded rules prohibiting journalists from covering family members under Zucker's leadership, and the former governor was featured on his brother's show on multiple occasions. Later, when Andrew Cuomo was accused of sexual harassment by several women — allegations he denied but which forced him to resign as governor — the ethical lapse became challenging to justify. It became even more challenging to do so after the Washington Post disclosed that Cuomo's younger brother had been assisting his brother's team in their efforts to refute those allegations.

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The investigation's findings add to the drama at a company that is in the midst of numerous crucial business efforts. CNN is rumored to be weeks away from launching CNN Plus, a new subscription-based streaming service, and has enlisted the help of top journalists and celebrities. In recent weeks, Cornish, Audie New anchors, and hosts like Chris Wallace, Kasie Hunt, Eva Longoria, Jemele Hill, and Cari Champion have joined the network. In contrast, CNN anchors and correspondents like Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Wolf Blitzer have been given new jobs for the broadband network.

WarnerMedia is expected to be sold off by its present owner, AT&T, and acquired by Discovery, a non-fiction media business whose executives may want to steer CNN in a different direction than its prior CEO. One thing is sure: With Zucker gone and Gollust has gone, CNN is embarking on a new chapter in a saga that began in 1980, when its entrepreneur founder, Ted Turner, could only imagine how many people would fight over his brainchild.

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