Latest News

CNN President Jeff Zucker Resigns, Citing Relationship With Colleague

0

Jeff Zucker, left, and Allison Gollust, right, with journalist Tom Brokaw at an awards ceremony in 2016.
Photo: Jared Siskin/PMC

CNN President Jeff Zucker has resigned from the cable news network, citing his failure to disclose a consensual relationship with a close colleague, according to an email he sent to staff on Wednesday.

“I came to CNN on January 28, 2013. Together, we had nine great years. I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently. But it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute,” he wrote.

On…

CNN President

Jeff Zucker
has resigned from the cable news network, citing his failure to disclose a consensual relationship with a close colleague, according to an email he sent to staff on Wednesday.

“I came to CNN on January 28, 2013. Together, we had nine great years. I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently. But it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute,” he wrote.

On a web call this afternoon, WarnerMedia Chief Executive

Jason Kilar
told a group of CNN brass still reeling from news of Mr. Zucker’s departure that a trio of CNN executives would lead the network on an interim basis, according to people familiar with the situation.

Michael Bass,
executive vice president of programming,

Amy Entelis,
executive vice president for talent, and executive vice president

Ken Jautz
will be in charge of CNN until a new executive is named, the people said.

The colleague Mr. Zucker referred to is

Allison Gollust,
an executive vice president and chief marketing officer at CNN. In a statement, Ms. Gollust said that she and Mr. Zucker have been friends for over 20 years and said that the relationship changed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time,” Ms. Gollust said. “I’m incredibly proud of my time at CNN and look forward to continuing the great work we do every day.”

Both Ms. Gollust and Mr. Zucker, 56, are divorced.

In his email to CNN employees, Mr. Zucker said his relationship with Ms. Gollust evolved in recent years. He said he was required to disclose it when it began, and was wrong not to do so.

Some senior executives at CNN didn’t see Mr. Zucker’s abrupt departure coming, a person familiar with the matter said. Top CNN executives, including Ms. Gollust and Mr. Bass, were scheduled on Wednesday afternoon to meet with Mr. Kilar.

‘I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently,’ Jeff Zucker said in an email to staff.
Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Mr. Zucker disclosed the relationship with Ms. Gollust to WarnerMedia in recent days during an investigation into former CNN host

Chris Cuomo,
people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Cuomo was fired by CNN in December after the investigation found he improperly helped his brother, former

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo,
respond to accusations of sexual misconduct.

In the past week, Mr. Kilar learned that Mr. Zucker disclosed the relationship to WarnerMedia executives and quickly decided Mr. Zucker should step down, some of the people said. Mr. Zucker then submitted his resignation, they said.

In the immediate aftermath of Mr. Zucker’s resignation, Mr. Kilar called anchors at CNN, including Jake Tapper and Don Lemon, to reassure them, according to people familiar with the calls.

Mr. Zucker’s departure comes as
AT&T Inc.
is preparing to spin off WarnerMedia and merge it with
Discovery Inc.
to form a new company, Warner Bros. Discovery. Mr. Zucker had indicated he planned to stay at CNN at least through the closing of the deal.

A former wunderkind producer of NBC’s “Today” show, Mr. Zucker rose through the media industry’s ranks over a three-decade-plus career. He became CEO of NBCUniversal, leaving after
Comcast Corp.
took control in 2011.

After joining CNN in 2013, Mr. Zucker quickly put his stamp on the network, reshuffling the anchor lineup and hiring journalists such as Mr. Tapper, Alisyn Camerota, Mr. Cuomo and

Brian Stelter.
The network enjoyed a ratings surge during the Trump years, as Mr. Zucker steered coverage that was critical of the former president. More recently, CNN’s viewership has fallen off amid a wider decline in cable ratings.

As CNN’s business head and de facto programmer-in-chief, Mr. Zucker has been a hands-on leader, running daily news calls and spearheading contract negotiations with anchors. His departure leaves a hole at the network, which is preparing to launch an ambitious direct-to-consumer streaming service. In 2019, Mr. Zucker was promoted to take on oversight of WarnerMedia’s sports properties, in addition to his role at CNN.

Mr. Zucker personally recruited and promoted many of the top anchors at CNN, and news of his departure left a hole at the network, people familiar with the situation at CNN said. Mr. Lemon, host of “Don Lemon Tonight,” said in an interview that anchors would miss encouraging texts from Mr. Zucker during commercial breaks.

“Jeff has been one of the most important people for me, personally and professionally, for the last decade,” Mr. Lemon said. “He’s important to me. Not only that, he’s important to just about everyone at the network, especially the on-air talent.”

Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com

Ford Earnings On Tap As January Sales Rebound Ahead Of ‘Launch Of The Decade’

Previous article

Meta earnings miss expectations amid Apple privacy changes, stock plummets

Next article

You may also like

Comments

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Latest News