- CNN boss Jeff Zucker resigned after admitting to a romantic relationship with a network exec.
- He said it was uncovered during the investigation into Chris Cuomo, the anchor who was fired in December.
- Some CNN insiders think Cuomo’s team flagged the relationship as revenge for his ousting, reports say.
Some CNN insiders suspect the former news anchor Chris Cuomo flagged Jeff Zucker’s workplace relationship as revenge for firing him, multiple reports say.
Zucker resigned as CNN’s president on Wednesday after admitting that he had failed to disclose a romantic relationship with Allison Gollust, a senior executive at the network.
In a memo, Zucker said he was asked about his relationship during an investigation into Cuomo, who was fired from the network last December after it emerged he had privately helped his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, navigate a sexual-harassment scandal.
“Notice Zucker mentioned how this came from the Cuomo investigation,” one senior CNN staffer told The Daily Beast after Zucker’s announcement. “People think this is clearly Cuomo dragging down Zucker on his way out.”
The New York Times cited two anonymous sources briefed on the matter as saying that Cuomo’s legal team flagged Zucker’s romantic relationship in discussions with WarnerMedia lawyers. WarnerMedia is CNN’s parent company.
The WarnerMedia lawyers were interviewing Cuomo and CNN management about the anchor’s eight-year tenure at the network, The Times reported.
In those discussions, Cuomo’s lawyers claimed Zucker was hypocritical to suggest Cuomo had a personal conflict of interest when he was having a relationship with someone in the company, Politico reported, citing two sources.
Cuomo was said to be “livid” after his termination and making arrangements to sue CNN over the remainder of a four-year contract he signed in 2020, The Daily Beast and the New York Post reported at the time.
In an hourlong meeting with WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar on Wednesday, the anchor Jake Tapper said: “An outside observer might say, ‘Well, it looks like Chris Cuomo succeeded,'” The Wall Street Journal reported.
“He threatened Jeff. Jeff said we don’t negotiate with terrorists. And Chris blew the place up. How do we get past that perception that this is the bad guy winning?” Tapper added, The Journal reported.
Representatives for Cuomo, Zucker, and WarnerMedia did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Cuomo once had a close relationship with Zucker, who personally recruited him from ABC News, The Daily Beast reported. Gollust also briefly served as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s communications director before joining CNN.
Zucker’s sudden departure reportedly stunned many CNN staffers, who described him as a hands-on leader who took a personal interest in employees.
“Jeff was a great leader during a tumultuous time in the country,” one senior network correspondent told New York Magazine.
“It’s a mixture of shock and heartbreak. Jeff had relationships with everyone, from anchors to reporters to producers. Everyone loves Jeff,” another CNN source told New York Magazine.