“More shoes to remove.” It’s a phrase that was repeated many times in the media the day after Jeff Zucker’s sudden resignation from CNN, although it remains unclear whether there are actually more shoes and where they might go.
The implication is that Zucker and his significant other, Allison Gollust, may have become unsettlingly attached to the Cuomo brothers in an undisclosed manner, including possibly offering advice to entice the Governor. The governor of New York at the time was Andrew in a way that was no different from the price Chris paid for his job. Is this real or did the players at AT&T/WarnerMedia/Discovery drop it in the water after facing noisy opposition from CNN’s loyal talent? That is still not clear. But even before that particular unknown was noticed, the outraged reactions of some of CNN’s top talents were far more emotional than analysis, especially by a group of experts. news specialist.
As controversial as he is, damn it, although he’s in many circles for his role in building and motivating Donald Trump, for many, Zucker is a beloved boss, loved by his employees. he sees as a necessary player. But journalists are supposed to be skeptical, to consider that there may be facts that they don’t know. Sometimes they have to face facts that they know but don’t like. And while it’s clearly been an emotional day at CNN, journalists must remain calm, even during war. We recently witnessed a reporter get hit by a car during a live broadcast, and she still finished her segment. That’s not recommended, but that’s what reporters do.
However, within hours of Zucker’s news, Alisyn Camerota went on the air, criticizing his decision to force his resignation. “If what you’re reporting is true, then here are two adults who agree and both are executives,” she told CNN’s Brian Stelter. “That they can’t have a private relationship feels wrong.” During a follow-up meeting at CNN’s Washington office that evening, with WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, Dana Bash is said to have complained that “the punishment did not match the crime.” Some in the group seem to have rushed to conclude that Kilar took the opportunity to defeat the enemy, using a minor transgression that should have been forgiven. And maybe that’s an element of the story. Maybe, as some have speculated, up-and-coming director David Zaslav might not be afraid to get a clear shot at reshaping CNN without having to go head to head with his close friend Zucker (assume) history of the Discovery-Warner Media agreement being approved).
But perhaps offended CNN employees might notice a few things, starting with the fact that Zucker and Gollust weren’t exactly clear in the statements they made that day. “I admit the relationship has grown in recent years,” Zucker said when asked. Imagine a politician in the middle of a scandal of this kind saying that the relationship “has evolved in recent years”. Any reporter would dismiss that as vague, unsatisfactory and demanding more accuracy.
Gollust’s claim – and, notably, her top communications executive – is worse. “Recently, our relationship has changed during COVID,” she said. Within a day, it was widely known that the relationship between Zucker and Gollust had been a secret that had been made public for many years. Who can’t see the reveal coming?
Shortly after the news of her resignation broke, the internet stirred up a passage in Katie Couric’s memoir in which she claimed that Zucker and Gollust had been romantically involved on the TV show collaboration. Her brief, aired in 2012-2014. So much for “recent years” and “during COVID.” And although Gollust and Zucker are both single now, they were not then, and Couric noted that Gollust and her family lived in an apartment above the one that Zucker shared with his wife and children during a “cozy arrangement” that makes “everyone who’s heard of it” is “super weird.” As a close friend of Zucker’s wife, she continued, “it really upsets me. “
The day after Zucker resigned, Rolling Stone The article began a relationship in 1996, when Gollust was an intern on NBC’s corporate communications team and Zucker was a married executive producer of Today. That image, which involves a stark disparity of power, is far less appealing than the image of “two agreeing adults and both executives.” In the years that followed, Gollust rose rapidly at NBC and then CNN, largely while reporting for Zucker. (The magazine also reported that WarnerMedia had previously investigated the relationship, and the pair had repeatedly denied being involved.)
And there’s more to the Couric anecdote: She writes that Zucker pushed Gollust to get a job Today although Couric felt her service was unnecessary. “I had to wonder why it was so difficult for Jeff to get Allison on the plane,” she wrote. It seems that Zucker relies on a top internet star to attract an underling with whom he has an affair. Such an anecdote is likely to reveal to any reporter writing about a politician or executive, who will then look for other signs of rule-bending. That didn’t seem to work out for some senior members of CNN staff.
During the confrontation with Kilar, Jake Tapper brought up the question of Chris Cuomo that by themselves might have been enough to make Zucker’s defenders stop. “Jason, if you can deal with the perception that Chris Cuomo was fired by CNN, Chris Cuomo hires a highly qualified attorney whose policy is appalling, who then makes it very clear to the world that unless Jeff hands it over to his Chris Cuomo. [severance] money, they’re gonna blow this place up. Content began to leak on gossip sites about Jeff and Allison… and then a few weeks later, Jeff came forward, revealed this, and resigned – involuntarily. ‘ said Tapper. “An outside observer might say, ‘Well, it looks like Chris Cuomo made it. He threatened, Jeff said, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists,” and he blew up the place. “How do we overcome that perception, that this is the bad guy winning?”
If Chris Cuomo is in fact the bad guy winning, it makes sense to ask: Who gave him the ammunition to get the job done? And there are questions beyond mere fact about the Zucker-Gollust relationship, even though similar behavior has cost other top executives their jobs in recent years. Dealing with the Cuomo brothers was frustrating enough, even if there were no shoes left to ignore regarding their relationship with Zucker and Gollust.
CNN has been lenient with Chris for a long time as the story of Andrew continues. He was controversial for interviewing his brother on CNN and as a result he no longer had to discuss Andrew. On August 3, New York Attorney General Letitia James released her findings that Andrew engaged in sexual harassment in violation of federal and state law. Any news channel can put Chris on the air so another host can cover one of the biggest stories in the country. But Chris sat in his chair that night, pretending the story didn’t exist. Did Zucker ask him to rest, only to be denied because his anchor had lethal information about him? Is Zucker even in a position to ask?
These seem to be questions that could come up with any reporter covering the story. Perhaps now some of Zucker’s defenders at CNN are beginning to wonder – and fear – what the answer might be, no matter how much they love Zucker as their boss.