The clandestine battle behind the scenes between CNN, former CNN boss Jeff Zucker, and former CNN host Chris Cuomo continued as two major developments dropped Tuesday night. The first was Zucker’s lover and fellow CNN executive Allison Gollust resigned from the company two weeks after Zucker was forced out. The second was a New York Times expose that revealed new details of how the three fell so far and new details of Cuomo’s alleged sexual assault of a colleague while at ABC News.
Gollust’s ouster was announced by WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar in a letter to the company that was shared by CNN hatchetman and media apologist Brian Stelter on Twitter.
“Earlier today, Allison Gollust resigned from CNN following the conclusion of the Company’s investigation into issues associated with Chris Cuomo and former Governor Andrew Cuomo,” Kilar wrote. “Performed by a third-party law firm and led by a former federal judge, the investigation was comprehensive and definitive.”
Brand new memo from Jason Kilar: “The investigation found violations of Company policies, including CNN’s News Standards and Practices, by Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust, and Chris Cuomo.” pic.twitter.com/Xu1HQJw9cT
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 16, 2022
According to the New York Times report, Kilar was the exacting force inside the company that pushed for the outside investigation that lead to Cuomo and Zucker’s ouster. So it was no surprise that he was sure to declare he made “the right decisions” on all counts:
Based on interviews of more than 40 individuals and a review of over 100,000 texts and emails, the investigation found violations of Company policies, including CNN’s News Standards and Practices, by Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust, and Chris Cuomo. (…) Given the information provided to me in the investigation, I strongly believe we have taken the right actions and the right decisions have been made.
He also made the utterly laughable statement that CNN has “the highest standards of journalistic integrity[.]”
The details of that internal investigation came to light in the Times report featuring accounts of a meeting only attended by Zucker, Gollust, and Cuomo regarding the suspension of the latter. And while Zucker did want to “fire” Cuomo, he “tried to be diplomatic as he broke the news that Mr. Cuomo was suspended. He suggested there was a chance he could return after the network’s investigation ran its course[.]”
But that night, according to the report, a “fateful letter” from sexual harassment lawyer Debra S. Katz was delivered to the network. It contained the account of her client “Jane Doe” (“a young temporary ABC employee hoping for a full-time job”) alleging Cuomo had sexually assaulted her in his ABC office:
One day, after Mr. Cuomo, an anchor, had offered her career advice, he invited her to lunch in his office, according to the letter, interviews with the woman and emails between her and Mr. Cuomo.
When she arrived, there was no food. Instead, Mr. Cuomo badgered her for sex, and after she declined, he assaulted her, she said. She ran out of the room.
Years went by but as the #MeToo movement toppled media heavyweights like Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, Cuomo tried to pressure Doe from not coming forward by running a doting segment about her employer.
“Mr. Cuomo proposed arranging a CNN segment about the company where she worked doing public relations. The woman tried to avoid any contact with Mr. Cuomo, but CNN ultimately broadcast a segment anyway,” the paper reported.
Just days after receiving that letter, Zucker pulled the plug on Cuomo. “From Mr. Cuomo’s perspective, Mr. Zucker had fired him without due process, fearful that the woman’s allegations might appear in the media,” a source told the Times.
And by the time of Zucker was forced out, Kilar seemed to be at his wit’s end: “Mr. Zucker asked to stay until the Discovery merger was complete in a few months. Mr. Kilar said no.”