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Shock and Dismay at CNN as Zucker Resigns Amid Scandal – WWD

There was a shock and dismay when CNN on Wednesday morning when an email from CNN President Jeff Zucker sent employee inboxes notice of his immediate resignation from the company for failing to disclose his relationship with Allison Gollust, CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. , and a direct report.

The shock wasn’t the relationship news. It was an open secret at CNN, and the New York media had admittedly been gossipers for years. And reporters at several outlets have looked into the rumors about this relationship. Instead, the disclosure led to the chagrin of one of the industry’s most prominent media executives at a time when CNN, parent company WarnerMedia, was in the middle of a $48 billion acquisition of Discovery. , Inc. That acquisition, which is expected to be completed by mid-year and designed by Discovery CEO David Zaslav and AT&T CEO John Stankey, is believed to be the start of a more powerful term for the company. Zucker at incorporated companies. Indeed, Zucker (who has been friends with Zaslav for decades) kept the deal secret as it was rolled out, while current WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, with whom Zucker clashed, Are not.

Kilar sent his own memo on Wednesday revealing that he had accepted Zucker’s resignation; he also appointed three executives — Michael Bass (programming), Amy Entelis (talent and content development) and Ken Jautz (HLN, Newsource) — as the network’s interim leadership team.

Gollust, in her own statement on Wednesday, signaled that she will stay at CNN. However, sources inside CNN, who declined to be identified, said they didn’t expect her to be there for long. According to observers, a series of unflattering revelations at CNN may put pressure on Zaslav to clean the house.

Zucker’s profile only grew during times of extreme political polarization during the Trump years. The former NBCUniversal CEO teased “The Apprentice,” spurring Donald out of the New York media’s curiosity about the familiar name. But at CNN, Zucker became a favorite target of the former president, who saw the press as the “enemy of the people.” At the same time, Zucker was blamed by Trump’s detractors for triggering and normalizing Trump’s rhetoric by spending uninterrupted hours on Trump’s speeches during the 2016 presidential campaigns. .

Zucker and Gollust had been very close for many years. Gollust acknowledged many of these things in his own statement. “Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years,” she wrote. “Recently, our relationship has changed during COVID[-19]. I regret that we didn’t reveal it at the appropriate time.”

Zucker brought Gollust to CNN in 2013, early in his tenure there. The two used to be close colleagues at NBCUniversal. Zucker was ousted from NBCUniversal in 2010, after GE sold the network group to Comcast. Gollust also left and in 2012 began serving as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s spokeswoman, a job that required her to be present in Albany, NY, at least intermittently. She’ll only be there for four months, until Zucker hires her at CNN.

Zucker said in his statement that he was asked about the relationship during an internal investigation into the conduct of first anchor employee Chris Cuomo, who was fired in December following a series of revelations about his efforts to help his brother Andrew fight multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Like Gollust, he said, “the relationship has grown in recent years.” Reporters at several stores have investigated rumors about this relationship. And some have openly questioned the stated timing. Keith Olbermann, a former MSNBC firefighter, tweeted on Wednesday, “Anyone who knows Zucker, knows Allison Gollust. I first figured it out in 2006 or 2007”.

Meanwhile, CNN employees who have been picked up by two mergers in three years and Chris Cuomo’s firing after months of revelations are increasingly indisputable, and the legal battle is ongoing. by his attorneys, are once again thrust into the dilemma of covering the ill-fated machinations of their own workplace. And this is already starting to wear off. Many anchors expressed disappointment that Zucker continued to defend Cuomo after the anchor’s attempt on his brother’s behalf first surfaced last summer. And really, the latest black eye for CNN has only encouraged the network’s critics.

Trump released a statement commemorating Zucker’s resignation: “Jeff Zucker is gone – congratulations to all!”

https://wwd.com/business-news/media/shock-and-dismay-at-cnn-as-chief-jeff-zucker-resigns-1235061072/ Shock and Dismay at CNN as Zucker Resigns Amid Scandal – WWD

Linh

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