More details emerged on Friday about the resignation of CNN’s former chief marketing officer Allison Gollust earlier this week following WarnerMedia’s investigation into ousted primetime host Chris Cuomo — including that she had interfered with news coverage of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and had misled investigators about the timeline of her romantic relationship with network president Jeff Zucker.
The New York Times reported Friday that in March 2020 Gollust allowed Andrew Cuomo — for whom she had previously worked as a top communications aide — to dictate what questions he would be asked during CNN interviews in the early days of the pandemic. Gollust passed along the Democratic governor’s preferred topics of discussion to CNN producers and reported back to him that his request was “Done,” according to several insiders familiar with the details of the investigation by CNN parent WarnerMedia.
WarnerMedia determined that Gollust’s exchanges with Andrew Cuomo were inappropriate and became one key factor leading to Gollust’s forced resignation on Tuesday, the insiders said. In a memo on Tuesday, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said, “The investigation found violations of Company policies, including CNN’s News Standards and Practices, by Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust, and Chris Cuomo.”
In addition, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that WarnerMedia investigators determined that Gollust had made misleading statements about the precise timing of her romantic relationship with Zucker — which she had claimed began during the COVID pandemic despite widespread belief that it had begun much, much earlier.
Reps for CNN and Gollust did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s requests for comment.
A spokeswoman for Gollust defended her communications with Andrew Cuomo to the Times, saying that she “in no way suggested that inclusion of these topics was a condition of the interview, nor did she suggest the interview should be limited to these subjects.” The spokeswoman added: “WarnerMedia relying on this everyday practice as justification for dismissing Allison demonstrates how ignorant they are of journalistic practices, and further proves that her dismissal is nothing more than retaliation.”
Gollust’s rep also said that “Allison has been clear that her relationship with Jeff changed during Covid, and regrets that they didn’t properly disclose it to WarnerMedia at that time.”
Jeff Zucker abruptly resigned earlier this month over failing to disclose his relationship with Gollust, who previously worked with him at NBCUniversal, in violation of company policies about having personal relationships with employees who are direct reports.
Many media insiders have questioned that the pair’s romance only began in the last two years; Zucker and his wife Caryn Nathanson separated in 2018 and later divorced; Gollust is also divorced from her husband, Tradewell Markets president William Hult. The couple has two children, Olivia and Ava.
The investigation was prompted after the network fired Chris Cuomo in December after New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a report suggesting the anchor had not been forthcoming about the extent of his efforts to help his brother Andrew Cuomo defend himself against allegations of sexual misconduct. The former governor resigned last summer but has denied any wrongdoing.