Gollust, who had worked with Zucker for decades and rejoined CNN in 2013 as his “closest colleague,” has been identified as the woman with whom Zucker had a “consensual relationship” that he did not disclose to CNN owner AT&T in apparent violation of company policies.
“Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years. Recently, our relationship changed during COVID. I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time,” Gollust said in a statement on Wednesday. “I’m incredibly proud of my time at CNN, and look forward to continuing the great work we do every day.”
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 have two children, Olivia and Ava.
In her 2021 memoir “Going There,” Katie Couric recalled how Zucker pressed her to hire Gollust to handle publicity on her short-lived syndicated show “Katie” (2012-14). “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 Caryn’s—everyone who heard about their cozy arrangement thought it was super strange,” Couric wrote. “By that point, Caryn (Zucker’s ex-wife) had become a close friend and it made me really uncomfortable.”
According to Zucker himself, Gollust has been his “closest colleague” for two decades now, first at NBCUniversal — where he served as president and chief executive of the company and she was the EVP of corporate communications.
Gollust briefly served as the communications director for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo before rejoining Zucker at CNN shortly after he was named the network’s president in 2013.
Last February, NBC News reported that Gollust was at the top of the list of an internal list of names to potentially replace Zucker, who was hinting at retirement when his contract expired. At the time, CNN sources said that she served as his “lieutenant,” and attended most meetings and events with Zucker.
When accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced against Andrew Cuomo, and his brother and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was disclosed to have played a major role in assisting his brother and seeking to discredit Andrew Cuomo’s accusers, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer claimed that Gollust was directly responsible for the lack of action being taken against Chris Cuomo at the time.
“One of the reasons why CNN has not taken any disciplinary action against journalist Chris Cuomo is because of the relationship she has with Governor Andrew Cuomo,” Fleischer said on Fox News.
On Wednesday, further reports surfaced that Chris Cuomo’s lawyers sent a letter to CNN “demanding, among other things, preservation of all communications between Zucker, comms chief Allison Gollust, and Andrew Cuomo.”
Gollust’s romantic ties to Zucker hit the tabloids last month, with Radar reporting that the two had “been involved in a clandestine romance dating back years.” But five years ago, Page Six reported that Gollust got into a “heated exchange” in front of top media executives at a Hollywood Reporter event that one observer said “looked like she was reprimanding her husband or something.”