CNN scandal: Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust gave Gov. Cuomo COVID ‘talking points’ to combat Trump, report says

A new bombshell report alleges professional and journalistic wrongdoing by ousted CNN president Jeff Zucker and his colleague Allison Gollust.

Zucker announced his immediate resignation from CNN admitting he failed to disclose his consensual relationship with Gollust, CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer who is still with the company. 

While Gollust’s statement suggests her relationship with Zucker blossomed during the coronavirus pandemic, Rolling Stone magazine alleges it began decades earlier and that the “CNN power couple… repeatedly lied about their relationship to their corporate bosses.”

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“In reality, these sources tell Rolling Stone, Zucker became romantically entangled with Gollust back in 1996, when she was a trainee in NBC’s corporate communications group and he was the married executive producer of ‘The Today Show,’” Rolling Stone reported

One “insider” told the magazine, “It was the worst-kept secret, but Jeff was seen as untouchable… And their statements [in the memo] are total bulls—.”

Ousted CNN president Jeff Zucker and colleague Allison Gollust.

Ousted CNN president Jeff Zucker and colleague Allison Gollust.
(Getty Images)

The report also shed light on unethical journalistic practices that allegedly took place at the highest levels at CNN in aiding New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the pandemic in addition to the help the now-disgraced Democrat received from his brother, fired CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. 

“The source says the investigation suggests Zucker and Gollust were advising the governor at the beginning of the COVID pandemic in ways not dissimilar to what led to Chris Cuomo’s dismissal,” Rolling Stone reported. “As Andrew sparred on a daily basis with then-President Trump over COVID messaging, the couple provided the governor with talking points on how to respond to the president’s criticisms of the New York crisis.” 

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“They also booked the governor to appear on the network exclusively, which became a ratings boon for CNN, with Chris Cuomo doing the interviewing. Cuomo and Gollust’s conduct, too, would appear to mark an ethical breach for executives acting on behalf of an impartial news outlet,” the report added.

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2020/09/08: NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo holds press briefing and announcement at office on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 2020/09/08: NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo holds press briefing and announcement at office on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A representative for Zucker told the New York Post, which similarly reported that he and Gollust were “coaching” Cuomo, “This is 100% false. During a once in a lifetime pandemic when people were desperate for information, CNN and every other network took the briefings live. Jeff of course had a relationship with Andrew Cuomo, as he does with countless other electeds.”

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Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple reported how Zucker and Gollust were “instrumental” in securing the interviews with the Cuomo brothers. 

“Though Andrew Cuomo’s staff assented to the early appearances, they had second thoughts about continuing the series,” Wemple wrote, citing several sources. “When the governor’s staff pushed back at CNN booking appeals, according to sources, Gollust appealed directly to the governor, who she’d known from her short stint as his communications director years before.”

While acknowledging a CNN spokesperson’s response saying “executives pressing public officials for interviews is standard practice,” Wemple added, “Yet it’s noteworthy that the upper reaches of the organization got personally involved in arranging interviews that conflicted with CNN standards, even if the network famously crafted an exception for the Cuomo-on-Cuomo affairs.”

Other critics bashed the liberal network for such lapses in journalistic ethics. 

“This is some State TV bulls—,” Rolling Stone editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman reacted. “Unacceptable at any newsroom, and especially by the folks in charge.”

“Just so fitting that even in its reporting of the resignation of its own network president — CNN has omitted or misrepresented multiple key details of a story they likely have intimate details of. WarnerMedia heads and new stakeholders are certainly making note of this,” Fox News contributor Joe Concha tweeted.

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CNN did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Fox News also reached out to Andrew Cuomo for comment. 

Zucker shocked the media landscape when he informed his staff that he was stepping down effective immediately.

“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 the memo. 

Embattled CNN boss Jeff Zucker walked away from the liberal network on Wednesday after failing to disclose a "consensual relationship" with a CNN staffer. (Getty Images)

Embattled CNN boss Jeff Zucker walked away from the liberal network on Wednesday after failing to disclose a “consensual relationship” with a CNN staffer. (Getty Images)

“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,” the ousted CNN boss told colleagues. “I came to CNN on January 28, 2013. Together, we had nine great years. I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently. But it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute. I am grateful to the thousands of incredibly talented CNN and Turner Sports employees who helped make this such a joy for me, and such a success for all of us. I wish each of you nothing but the best in the years ahead.”

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Gollust issued her own statement, saying, “Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years. Recently, our relationship changed during COVID. I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time.”

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