CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, the influential news executive who reshaped the iconic network, has announced that he has resigned from his position effective immediately.
Zucker’s stunning announcement came less than two months after he fired prime time anchor Chris Cuomo for improperly advising his brother, then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, about how to address sexual misconduct allegations.
“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 told employees in a memo.
“I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today.”
Zucker did not name his colleague, but the relationship is with Allison Gollust, his key lieutenant for the last two decades. Gollust is remaining at CNN.
Zucker and Gollust began working together at NBC in 1998. They rose through the ranks at the network together, and when Zucker joined CNN, Gollust was among his first hires.
Just before coming to CNN Gollust had worked briefly as communications director for Andrew Cuomo. She is currently executive vice president and chief marketing officer at CNN.
In a statement of her own, Gollust said: “Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years. 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.”
Zucker and Gollust both divorced from their partners years ago.
Rumours that their close working relationship had morphed into a romantic one have long been the subject of speculation and have occasionally surfaced in gossip columns.
The journalist Katie Couric, who once worked closely with Zucker, but later had a falling-out with him, even hinted at it in her tell-all memoir released last year.
News of Zucker’s resignation sent shockwaves inside CNN and across the industry. CNN employees had no idea what was coming before Zucker’s email landed in their inboxes shortly after 11 a.m. ET.