'Zucker's Water Boy': Brian Stelter Knew About CNN Prez's Affair

Cable news insiders call for network's chief media journalist to be fired

Brian Stelter / Getty Images
February 3, 2022

Cable news insiders are urging CNN to fire Brian Stelter, alleging the media journalist knew of former network president Jeff Zucker's affair with another senior executive.

"The network needs to step up and fire Brian Stelter," a CNN insider told the Daily Mail. "He is allegedly our top media reporter—yet he failed to report on the scoop that everyone in the office knew. And if he wants to say he didn't know, he is truly terrible at his job."

Stelter, a self-described "advocate for factual journalism," anchors Reliable Sources, a program about distrust in media run by a network known for being distrusted by the public. CNN last month suffered some of the lowest ratings in cable news, with 80 percent drops in both primetime and daytime ratings.

Zucker, who was the network's president for nearly a decade, resigned on Wednesday after admitting to a romantic relationship with Allison Gollust, a senior vice president for communications at CNN. Zucker hired Gollust in 2013 from disgraced ex-governor Andrew Cuomo's (D., N.Y.) office, and the two carried on an affair considered an "open secret" by many staff members. They lived in the same apartment building, shared offices "right next to" each other, and were considered an "uncomfortably cozy" pair by their colleagues, causing parent company Warner Media in 2021 to separate them from working together, a source told the Daily Mail.

Zucker divorced his wife of 21 years in 2018. Gollust divorced her husband a year later. An anonymous cable news veteran told the Daily Mail that Stelter's failure to report the "worst-kept secret" at CNN should cost him his job.

"Brian Stelter should be calling his agent to start looking for another job," one said. "He's been Jeff Zucker's water boy for years, and no one believes he didn't know about all of this."

Just 16 percent of conservative Republicans trust CNN's reporting, whereas 70 percent of self-described liberal Democrats trust the network, according to the Pew Research Center.