Zucker announced his resignation in a memo, writing: “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. 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.”
While Zucker didn’t name his colleague in his memo, the relationship was with Allison Gollust, who serves as CNN’s chief marketing officer. Gollust is set to stay on at CNN, as she confirmed in her own memo.
“Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years,” Gollust said. “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 everyday.”
Jason Kilar, CEO of CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia, said the company had accepted Zucker’s resignation. “We will be announcing an interim leadership plan shortly,” Kilar continued. “Both of these organizations are at the top of their respective games and are well prepared for their next chapters.”
Zucker was named president of CNN Worldwide in 2013 after rising the ranks at NBC from a Today Show producer to president and CEO of NBC Universal (he was replaced there in 2010 after Comcast purchased the network). Zucker is also one of the rare media executives with some name recognition in popular culture: He played a key role in the infamous “late-night war” between Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno, and he’s long been linked with Donald Trump. Zucker both signed up Trump for his hit reality series The Apprentice, and later guided CNN’s coverage as it fed off of, and fueled, the chaos and media circus Trump created during the 2016 presidential election.
Trump, of course, was compelled to chime in on Zucker’s resignation, issuing the statement: “Jeff Zucker, a world-class sleazebag who has headed ratings and real-news-challenged CNN for far too long, has been terminated for numerous reasons, but predominately because CNN has lost its way with viewers and everybody else. Now is a chance to put Fake News in the backseat because there may not be anything more important than straightening out the horrendous LameStream Media in our Country, and in the case of CNN, throughout the World. Jeff Zucker is gone — congratulations to all!”
President Donald J. Trump:
"Jeff Zucker, a world-class sleazebag who has headed ratings and real-news-challenged CNN for far too long, has been terminated for numerous reasons, but predominantly because CNN has lost its way with viewers and everybody else. Now is a… pic.twitter.com/WVRr9iSVvs
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) February 2, 2022