Just under two weeks after Jeff Zucker resigned from CNN, the cable newser’s chief marketing exec Allison Gollust is out too.
The news came as The New York Times published an account of the downfall of Chris Cuomo, Zucker and now Gollust at the network, something that has left staffers with anxiety and uncertainty over the network’s future, particularly with the pending combination of CNN’s parent, WarnerMedia, with Discovery, a deal expected to close next month. The Times story included more details of allegations against Cuomo, including a woman’s claim that he sexually assaulted her in 2011, when he was an anchor at ABC News and she worked as a temporary employee.
WarnerMedia confirmed Gollust’s exit to Deadline after an internal memo by CEO Jason Kilar started leaking out:
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Earlier today, Allison Gollust resigned from CNN following the conclusion of the Company’s investigation into issues associated with Chris Cuomo and former Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Performed by a third-party law firm and led by a former federal judge, the investigation was comprehensive and definitive. It was commissioned in September and concluded this weekend, which now allows the company to share additional information. Based on interviews of more than 40 individuals and a review of over 100,000 texts and emails, the investigation found violations of Company policies, including CNN’s News Standards and Practices, by Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust, and Chris Cuomo. We have the highest standards of journalistic integrity at CNN, and those rules apply to everyone equally.
Kilar added in a memo to staffers, “I realize this news is troubling, disappointing, and frankly, painful to read. These are valid feelings many of you have.”
Both publicly and privately, a number of CNNers have been lamenting the demise of Zucker, who resigned resigned as the president of the outlet in the morning of February 2. In his goodbye to staff, the former Today Show producer put the cause of his exit after nearly a decade at CNN on a failure to disclose what he characterized as a “consensual relationship” with a colleague.
“As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years,” Zucker wrote earlier this month. “I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when I began but I didn’t. I was wrong.”
Despite wanting to hold on to his gig for a bit longer, Zucker was told in no uncertain terms by Kilar in a telephone call a few days before his resignation that “you can’t remain here,” as we reported on later on February 2.
The relationship was with Gollust, who had been viewed by some staffers as a potential successor to Zucker when the Discovery-WarnerMedia deal closed. After Zucker’s departure, a number of employees argued that Gollust had been unfairly tarnished by what happened, with her future at the company uncertain.
Another factor looming over all this, and one that the likes of Jake Tapper and other CNN anchors brought up to Kilar after Zucker’s ouster, is the threat of legal action from the younger Cuomo. Finally fired in December last year for his closer than previously disclosed association with his sexual harassment scandalized older brother and former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the ex-CNN host is seeking at least an $18 million payout.
Chris Cuomo has hired Hollywood heavyweight lawyer Bryan Freedman to represent him. Having successfully represented Megyn Kelly and Gabrielle Union-Wade in their respective battles with NBC, the Freedman & Taitelman LLP attorney sent a letter to CNN and WarnerMedia on December 6 asking for “preservation of relevant evidence.” In the one potential warning shot across the bow in an otherwise standard note, Freedman did make a point of requesting “documents including correspondence related to any appearances by Andrew Cuomo on CNN.”
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