SCOOP: Brian Stelter Ate His Feelings at McDonald's After CNN Canned Jeff Zucker

February 4, 2022

CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter was in the mood for some "reliable sauces" early Thursday morning after a long day covering his boss Jeff Zucker's sudden departure from the network.

Stelter described making a late-night run to a popular American fast-food chain during the latest episode of his Reliable Sources podcast, which was obtained and reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

After attempting to poke fun at the "cold Italian soup" his CNN colleague Oliver Darcy had for lunch, the host conceded: "That's better than me getting McDonald's at 12:30 in the morning last night after we finished work."

Zucker announced his resignation Wednesday, citing his failure to disclose a romantic relationship with Allison Gollust, the top communications executive at CNN who once served as an adviser to disgraced former governor Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.). Stelter and Darcy's initial report on Zucker's resignation was indistinguishable from a CNN press release:

CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, the influential news executive who reshaped the iconic network, announced Wednesday morning that he has resigned from his position effective immediately...

In recent years, Zucker led the network as it faced sustained attacks from former President Trump and his supporters. Under Zucker, CNN adopted a "Facts First" slogan and approach to the news and was unrelenting in calling out Trump for his lies.

Although Zucker and Gollust suggested the relationship had only recently become romantic, reporting by journalists who don't work for CNN suggests that both are lying. Sources told Rolling Stone, for example, that the romance was an open secret dating back to 1996, when Zucker was executive producer of the Today Show at NBC and Gollust was a trainee at the network. Former Today Show host Katie Couric strongly implied as much in her 2021 memoir.

Cable news insiders have called for Stelter to be fired for failing to report on the affair, which one CNN source described as something that "everyone in the office knew." There will almost certainly be additional revelations as the network continues its review of the scandal surrounding former primetime host Chris Cuomo, who was fired for advising his brother, the disgraced governor, in an effort to discredit a former staffer who accused him of sexual harassment.

Stelter has repeatedly complained that many Americans do not consider CNN to be a trustworthy source for news. Speaking on his podcast Thursday, the host lamented that Zucker's departure and the surrounding scandals might further erode the network's credibility. "I don't want to sound—tell me if this is too grandiose. The world and the country are better off when CNN is strong, and when brands like CNN are strong," he said.

The CNN correspondent rose to prominence in April 2020 when he confessed to having "crawled into bed and cried ... tears that had been waiting months to escape" because of Donald Trump.