Second CNN executive exits in wake of internal Cuomo inquiry

FILE - This Oct. 23, 2012 file photo shows Allison Gollust, communications director for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in Troy, N.Y. On Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, WarnerMedia said that Gollust, the CNN executive whose relationship with Jeff Zucker led to his resignation as the cable networks president, is leaving after an internal probe found violations of news standards. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File) (Mike Groll, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LOS ANGELES – Allison Gollust, the CNN executive whose relationship with Jeff Zucker led to his resignation as the cable network’s president, is leaving after an internal inquiry found violations of news standards, parent company WarnerMedia said.

Gollust's resignation Tuesday followed the conclusion of an investigation concerning ex-anchor Chris Cuomo and his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to a memo from Jason Kilar, CEO of CNN parent WarnerMedia.

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“The investigation found violations of Company policies, including CNN’s News Standards and Practices, by Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust, and Chris Cuomo," Kilar said in the memo.

WarnerMedia confirmed the memo and echoed it in a statement. The company declined further comment.

Chris Cuomo was fired after it was revealed in documents released by New York Attorney General Letitia James that his behind-the-scenes role helping craft his brother’s response to harassment charges was more extensive than previously acknowledged.

James’ office found that Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women. The former governor resigned in August to avoid a likely impeachment trial.

In Kilar's memo, he said the investigation that concluded last week relied on interviews and a review of 100,000-plus texts and emails. The inquiry was performed by a third-party law firm and led by a former federal judge, the memo said.

“I realize this news is troubling, disappointing, and frankly, painful to read. These are valid feelings many of you have,” Kilar said. “We have the highest standards of journalistic integrity at CNN, and those rules must apply to everyone equally.”

Gollust fired back in a statement.

“WarnerMedia’s statement tonight is an attempt to retaliate against me and change the media narrative in the wake of their disastrous handling of the last two weeks,” she said. “It is deeply disappointing that after spending the past nine years defending and upholding CNN’s highest standards of journalistic integrity, I would be treated this way as I leave.”

Gollust, a former publicist who rose to the rank of CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, stayed at the network after Zucker's resignation earlier this month.

“Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years,” she said in a statement issued at the time. “Recently, our relationship changed during COVID. I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time. I’m incredibly proud of my time at CNN and look forward to continuing the great work we do everyday.”

Prior to joining CNN, Gollust served as communications director for Andrew Cuomo. Like Zucker, she worked at NBC prior to that. Both are divorced.

“I acknowledged the relationship had evolved in recent years,” Zucker wrote in a memo announcing the end of his nine-year tenure. “I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong.”

Zucker has been an industry leader since he was executive producer of the “Today” show in the 1990s. In the following decade, he ran NBC’s entertainment division, where he was instrumental in putting the reality show “The Apprentice” starring Donald Trump on the air.

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