Jeff Zucker of influential US broadcaster resigns as president over failure to disclose a romantic relationship with longtime aide Allison Gollust.

As head of the 24-hour Cable News Network since 2013, Jeff Zucker was one of the most powerful media executives in the United States.
As head of the 24-hour Cable News Network since 2013, Jeff Zucker was one of the most powerful media executives in the United States. (AP)

CNN President Jeff Zucker has abruptly resigned after acknowledging a consensual relationship with another network executive — an entanglement that came to light during an investigation of now-fired anchor Chris Cuomo.

Zucker said on Wednesday he was asked about his relationship with longtime aide Allison Gollust as part of the Cuomo investigation, which revealed that the former anchor had aided his brother, then-New York governor Andrew Cuomo, as he navigated a sexual harassment scandal.

"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."

Former US president Trump released a statement about Zucker's resignation within roughly an hour of it being announced.

"Jeff Zucker, a world-class sleazebag who has headed ratings and real-news-challenged CNN for far too long, has been terminated for numerous reasons, but predominantly because CNN has lost its way with viewers and everybody else," Trump said.

"Now is a chance to put Fake News in the backseat because there may not be anything more important than straightening out the horrendous LameStream Media in our Country, and in the case of CNN, throughout the World," he said.

"Jeff Zucker is gone – congratulations to all!"

Zucker's career

A memo to employees from Jason Kilar, CEO of CNN parent WarnerMedia, said three senior executives at CNN would run the network on an interim basis.

Zucker, 56, 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.

He rose to become chief of NBC Universal and left in 2010 when Comcast took over.

In a statement, Zucker said he wished that his tenure at CNN had ended differently but, "it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute."

Cuomo case

Gollust, a former publicist who rose to the rank of CNN's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, is staying at the network.

"Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years," she said in a statement. 

"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 every day."

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

Chris Cuomo, at the time CNN's most popular prime-time anchor, was fired in December when it was revealed in documents released by New York attorney general Letitia James that his behind-the-scenes role helped 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.

Chris Cuomo is reportedly seeking a settlement from CNN, and speculation that Zucker and Gollust's relationship might come up in those talks was raised when wrote a story about the two last month.

READ MORE: CNN fires Chris Cuomo over role in ex-NY Gov brother’s sex scandal

Source: AP