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Former CNN executive Allison Gollust gleefully texted her former boss Andrew Cuomo that he’d dealt President Trump an “L” in a 2020 CNN interview she helped orchestrate, according to a report.
The revelation was part of a lengthy Rolling Stone piece delving into the ethically questionable relationship between recently ousted CNN President Jeff Zucker; his lover and longtime lieutenant Gollust; former New York Gov. Cuomo, for whom Gollust once worked as a communications aide; and Cuomo’s brother, former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
According to Rolling Stone, on March 28, 2020, after then-Gov. Cuomo offered an effective shoulder shrug to Albany reporters about then-President Trump suggesting a COVID-19 quarantine of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, he appeared on CNN later that afternoon with a far more forceful response.
“I think it would paralyze the economy,” he said. “I think it would shock the economic markets in a way we’ve never seen before.”
Later in the interview, CNN host Ana Cabrera teed up Cuomo with a question about the stock market, a subject of keen interest to Trump.
“On that point you made about the financial sector, about being able to have interstate commerce, but also the financial sectors, it’s the heart of Manhattan, right?” Cabrera asked. “What would this mean for the stock market? Would it have to shut down?”
“Oh, it would drop like a stone,” Cuomo said, adding it would be “chaos and mayhem” that could have devastating economic effects.
Between his Albany press conference and the CNN appearance that same Saturday, Gov. Cuomo had texted Gollust, “Ask Jeff to call me plz,” an apparent reference to Zucker. Shortly before his remote appearance on CNN, Gollust had copied Zucker on an email to a programming staffer to offer Cuomo as a last-minute guest, and she told Zucker the governor wanted to speak with him.
After the segment ended, according to the report, Gollust texted Cuomo: “Well done … Cuomo-W. Trump-L.”
The report lays out other examples of Gollust, who rose to be CNN’s chief marketing officer under Zucker, blurring the lines with then-Gov. Cuomo, at one point joking in a text, “I’m pretty sure I stopped being your publicist 8 years ago, but apparently I still am.” In another example, she invited him on CNN’s struggling morning show “New Day” to “squash” a rumor that Trump would shut down New York City. And another time, Cuomo remarked that she often asked for “favors” but it was OK since it was “mutual.”
Still, Zucker insists he never acted as a consultant to Cuomo.
“Jeff has never advised Andrew Cuomo,” Jeff Zucker spokeswoman Risa Heller told News Digital
Nothing crystallized the cozy relationship between Andrew Cuomo and CNN more than the chummy interviews conducted by his little brother on “Cuomo Prime Time.” The now infamous exchanges included mutual declarations of brotherly love, the younger Cuomo heaping praise on the governor for his coronavirus leadership, and even prop comedy involving a giant nasal swab. Although praised in some media corners at the time as great television, the interviews are now widely viewed as a black eye for the network and an ethical lapse, particularly as Gov. Cuomo’s coronavirus failings came to light.
Gollust served as Cuomo’s communications director from October 2012 until February 2013, jumping ship to CNN, where Zucker had just taken over as president.
Zucker’s nine-year run that saw CNN lurch to the left ended abruptly on Feb. 2 when he was forced to resign for reportedly not disclosing a sexual relationship with Gollust. He claimed their formerly professional relationship had become romantic “during COVID,” but the two had been romantically linked for years before that. The revelations came during a wider investigation of former primetime star Chris Cuomo, whose extensive, journalistically unethical involvement in his brother’s political sexual harassment defense – and misconduct allegations of his own – led to his termination in December.
Gollust resigned two weeks later, and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said she, Zucker, and Chris Cuomo were all guilty of multiple violations of company news standards and practices, casting doubt on the claim that Zucker’s resignation was solely for not disclosing his affair.
“If it all seems too incestuous to be true, it was hardly unusual within the culture that followed Zucker wherever he went. For all his many journalistic wins, a brazen disregard for workplace ethics seemed to envelop his newsrooms — a function, perhaps, of his early successes and the privileges he enjoyed along the way,” Rolling Stone reported.
The lengthy story could help the case of Chris Cuomo, who is seeking millions from WarnerMedia after his termination. The reporter who penned the Rolling Stone piece, Tatiana Siegel, used to have a landing page on the website of Cuomo’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, which is used to publicize coverage of his clients. NPR’s David Folkenflik put a spotlight in their relationship last month and the page suddenly vanished.
“A report in Rolling Stone by Tatiana Siegel, a veteran entertainment reporter who has frequently relied upon the law firm that Chris Cuomo has hired as a source, says that Zucker’s and Cuomo’s own advice to the former governor was also coming under scrutiny,” Folkenflik wrote on Feb. 7, linking to the page that archived five different times Siegel covered his clients over the years.
Siegel’s archive page was removed from Freedman’s website shortly after Folkenflik put a spotlight on their relationship, according to a search of internet archives. Freedman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CNN also did not respond to a request for comment.
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.