CNN President Jeff Zucker is stepping down, citing relationship with colleague
CNN President Jeff Zucker is stepping down effectively immediately, according to the cable network. In a memo cited by CNN, Zucker said he had had a "consensual relationship" with a colleague that he failed to disclose when it began.
CNN didn't immediately return a request for comment from CBS MoneyWatch. The news was first reported by CNN's Brian Stelter, who tweeted an image of the memo sent by Zucker to CNN employees. Stelter said the network was "stunned" by his resignation.
In the memo, Zucker said the relationship had come to light during the network's investigation of former anchor Chris Cuomo, who was fired in December for his role in helping his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, formulate his defense during a sexual harassment scandal.
"I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years," Zucker said in the memo. "I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn't. I was wrong."
Zucker, 56, who had worked at CNN since 2013 and is one of television's most influential executives, said he wished his tenure at the network "had ended differently."
Relationship with "closest colleague"
Zucker didn't disclose the name of the "closest colleague" with whom he had a relationship, but CNN reported that the colleague is Allison Gollust, the chief marketing officer for the network. Emailed for a comment, Gollust referred the question to a communications firm, which didn't immediately respond.
CNN reported that Gollust will remain at the network.
Before joining CNN, Gollust worked as the communications director for Andrew Cuomo, who resigned as governor in August amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Zucker's departure comes at a sensitive time for the network, which is in the midst of preparing a new streaming network called CNN+, geared at reaching viewers who are increasingly turning to online services for their news. (CNN+ will compete with CBS News Streaming.)
Zucker began his television career as a wunderkind, taking over NBC's "Today Show" when he was 26 years old. He spent more than two decades at NBC Universal, eventually serving as president and CEO from 2007 to 2011. During his career at NBC, he oversaw many of the network's hits — including NBC's "The Apprentice," which featured then-real estate mogul Donald Trump.
A graduate of Harvard, Zucker has also won eleven Emmys, according to his bio.
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