CNN president Jeff Zucker abruptly resigned on Wednesday after failing to disclose a romantic relationship with a subordinate. The relationship, which appears to have been an open secret that may have precipitated Zucker's divorce, was uncovered as part of the company's internal review of disgraced former anchor Chris Cuomo's tenure at the scandal-plagued network.
In an email to CNN staff, Zucker acknowledged a "consensual relationship" with executive Allison Gollust, who was Zucker's "key lieutenant for the last two decades," according to the network's media desk. Gollust was one of the first people Zucker hired upon joining CNN in 2013 and also worked with Zucker at NBC for nearly 15 years. Zucker's former colleague, Katie Couric, discussed the unusually close relationship in her 2021 memoir, Going There.
"At a certain point Jeff made a huge push to bring on Allison Gollust. … They were joined at the hip," Couric wrote. "I had to wonder why Jeff was angling so hard to bring Allison on board. She and her husband and kids had moved into the apartment right above Jeff and [his then-wife] Caryn's—everyone who heard about the cozy arrangement thought it was super-strange."
Gollust's marriage reportedly ended nearly a year before Zucker announced his divorce in 2019. On at least one occasion in 2017, the pair was observed bickering like a married couple at a cocktail party for media elites. Zucker reportedly used his influence in the industry to keep the affair from becoming public until now. "He's too powerful and holds grudges," a friend of Zucker's told Radar Online. "Everyone knows about it in business, and he's persuaded people to avoid it."
Zucker's resignation and the scandal surrounding it is yet another humiliating episode for the low-rated entertainment channel, which has struggled to attract viewers since President Joe Biden's inauguration. If CNN was pulling in the same numbers it did during the Trump administration, when the network went all out confronting Facebook grannies for posting problematic memes, Zucker's indiscretion would almost certainly be overlooked.
The announcement further vindicates CNN's critics, who have long alleged that the network is not a legitimate news channel that deserves to be taken seriously. On the contrary, according to its myriad critics, CNN is a creepy clown network run by creeps and clowns. For example:
Jeffrey Toobin returned to CNN in June 2021 as the network's chief legal analyst. Seven months earlier, Toobin was fired by the New Yorker for masturbating in front of his colleagues on a Zoom call. CNN could easily have promoted a person of color to replace Toobin, but Zucker wanted to give his friend a second chance. Before the public masturbation scandal, Toobin was best known for knocking up a colleague's daughter, pressuring her to get an abortion, and denying paternity after the child was born.
CNN fired Chris Cuomo in December 2021 after the primetime host was found to have advised his brother, disgraced former governor Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.), in an effort to smear one of several women accusing the governor of sexual harassment. Several weeks after Andrew resigned in August 2021, Chris was credibly accused of sexual harassment by a former colleague, Shelley Ross, who said the younger Cuomo squeezed her butt in front of her husband. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CNN host routinely violated journalism ethics by conducting inane interviews with his own brother.
Michael Avenatti, one of the most celebrated guests across all CNN programming in 2018, was ultimately exposed as a fraud and convicted of several felonies. Avenatti is currently serving time for attempting to extort Nike and is also on trial for stealing $300,000 from his porn star client, Stormy Daniels.
CNN's Anderson Cooper introduced Avenatti to the book agent who unwittingly helped him commit the theft. Cooper described the obvious charlatan as "a dynamic, energetic guy." Meanwhile, CNN's Brian Stelter was asserting that Avenatti was a "serious contender" to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Stelter, who is best known for his courageous reporting on former president Donald Trump's spelling errors, continues to lament the lack of public trust in the media.
CNN's Don Lemon, who hosts one of the lowest-rated shows on television, once invited Avenatti to a party at his mansion in the Hamptons. Speaking of which, Lemon is fighting a lawsuit filed by a Hamptons bartender who claims the CNN host sexually harassed and assaulted him in 2018. Speaking of alleged sex crimes, two CNN producers were busted late last year for sexually inappropriate behavior involving underage girls. John Griffin, who spent years working "should to shoulder" with Chris Cuomo, was indicted by a federal grand jury for attempting to "induce minors to engage in unlawful sexual activity."
Bill Weir doesn't get a lot of attention as CNN's chief climate correspondent, but he's just as much of a clown as his more prominent colleagues. In 2020, for example, Weir published a deranged letter to his son, River, who was "conceived in a lighthouse." The journalist apologized for bringing the boy into a world befouled by climate change and corporate greed. Months later, Weir refused to apologize after deploying a common misogynist trope in a Twitter tirade against a female politician.
Jim Acosta, the thirstiest man in showbiz, finally got his own show on CNN after years of heckling Trump as a member of the White House press corps. Acosta has used his platform to deliver some of the most cringeworthy one-liners and comedy zingers in the history of television.