Two weeks ago, Jeff Zucker stepped down as president of CNN after he failed to publicly reveal that he was in a relationship with one of his top executives — Allison Gollust, CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
On Tuesday night, Gollust resigned as the whole situation became much messier.
Jason Kilar, the CEO of WarnerMedia (CNN’s parent company), sent an email to staff that said, “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. 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 must apply to everyone equally. Given the information provided to me in the investigation, I strongly believe we have taken the right actions and the right decisions have been made.”
He added, “I realize this news is troubling, disappointing, and frankly, painful to read. These are valid feelings many of you have.”
Chris Cuomo was fired in December for helping his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, battle multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Chris Cuomo is fighting to get what money was left on his contract, which led to a CNN investigation.
Which is now leading to plenty of questions about all the relationships involving Zucker, Gollust and the Cuomo brothers.
In a statement to CNN’s Brian Stelter, Gollust said, “WarnerMedia’s statement tonight is an attempt to retaliate against me and change the media narrative in the wake of their disastrous handling of the last two weeks. It is deeply disappointing that after spending the past nine years defending and upholding CNN’s highest standards of journalistic integrity, I would be treated this way as I leave. But I do so with my head held high, knowing that I gave my heart and soul to working with the finest journalists in the world.”
This has become a CNN nightmare. Even before Gollust resigned, The New York Times had a detailed investigation from Emily Steel, Jodi Kantor, Michael M. Grynbaum, James B. Stewart and John Koblin. The story revealed even more details about problems at CNN. In it, the Times wrote, “More than 30 people familiar with the recent tumult … described the events and ethical violations that led to a leadership collapse at ‘the most trusted name in news.’”
Zucker had claimed that Chris Cuomo was fired because he had realized the extent to which Cuomo was helping his brother.
But The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Mullin tweeted Tuesday night that Chris Cuomo’s camp put out a statement that said, “It is clear this was never about an undisclosed relationship. As Mr. Cuomo has stated previously, Mr. Zucker and Ms. Gollust were not only entirely aware but fully supportive of what he was doing to help his brother. The still open question is when Warner Media is going to release the results of its investigation and explain its supposed basis for terminating Mr. Cuomo.”
Clearly, this story is long from being over.
This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.