Allison Gollust, CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, announced that she will stay at CNN in her role within the news network, after CNN’s worldwide president Jeff Zucker resigned and revealed that the two had an undisclosed romantic relationship.
Announced abruptly Wednesday morning, the two senior executives stated that they formed a consensual relationship over the past year and acknowledged that it was wrong to not disclose it to the company. Allison Gollust has decided to stay on. Jeff Zucker announced that he will be leaving, effective immediately.
“Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years,” Gollust wrote in an official statement on Wednesday. “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.”
The relationship allegedly came to light during the investigation into Chris Cuomo, the former CNN anchor who was fired due to his involvement in his brother Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal.
“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 wrote in his resignation announcement. “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,” he stated.
Zucker’s exit came after nine years as the company’s president, just as CNN’s position as one of the leading news organizations and television industries entered a period of great change. While CNN is dealing with declining ratings following Chris Cuomo’s firing, the company’s parent organization, WarnerMedia, is also preparing a merger with Discovery Inc.
Jeff Zucker was also gearing up for the rollout of CNN’s paid subscription streaming service, CNN+, which is set to debut sometime this spring.
The CNN worldwide president previously announced that he would be exiting the company after his contract expired at the end of 2021, but stated this past August that he wanted to remain with the company to make sure the Discovery merger went through smoothly.
“Together, we had nine great years,” Zucker wrote in his resignation statement on Wednesday. “I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently. But it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute.”
In a report published by Radar Online, the gossip site alleged that the relationship started between the two CNN executives before they were both divorced. The article went on to claim that they both left their significant others to be together.
Once the Chris Cuomo drama began, a “highly placed” source stated, the couple became frightened to disclose the affair amid talk of misconduct and favoritism at CNN.
“The talk in the corridors of CNN about Jeff and Allison’s purported relationship complicates the sticky decision to fire Chris,” the source said back in the beginning of January. “Have they sullied the network’s reputation? One could argue they have; it just hasn’t been made public yet.”
Before working at CNN, Gollust previously served as a communications director for Governor Andrew Cuomo, according to CNBC.
Katie Couric also mentioned the couple in her book, Going There, claiming that Gollust was Jeff Zucker’s first hire when he was executive producer at the Today show. Later, when he moved to CNN, he brought Gollust to the network.
“At a certain point, Jeff made a huge push to bring on Allison Gollust. They were joined at the hip,” Couric wrote. “I had to wonder why Jeff was angling so hard to bring Allison on board. She and her husband and kids had moved into the apartment right above Jeff and Caryn’s—everyone who heard about their cozy arrangement thought it was super strange… it made me really uncomfortable.”
It is unclear if the relationship will continue after his resignation, but both Allison Gollust and Jeff Zucker are now divorced.
Jason Kilar, the company’s chief executive, stated that the company accepted his resignation and would be announcing an “interim leadership plan soon.”