Jeff Zucker left CNN after having a relationship with a top executive.
The relationship came up during the network's investigation into Chris Cuomo, the former host of the network's news show. I should have told my coworkers about it right away, but I didn't, Zucker wrote in a memo.
As the president of CNN and chairman of WarnerMedia, Jeff Zucker resigned on Wednesday, saying in an email that the company did not know about a romantic relationship between him and another senior person at CNN. He also didn't tell the company about the relationship.
Mr. Zucker, who is 56, is one of the most powerful people in the American media and TV industries. The abrupt end of his nine-year term immediately throws the direction of CNN and its parent company, WarnerMedia, into question. WarnerMedia is expected to be bought by Discovery Inc. later this year in one of the largest media mergers in the country.
The New York Times has a memo from CNN CEO Jeff Zucker that says his relationship came up during a network investigation into Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor who was fired in December because he was involved in the political affairs of his brother, Andrew M. Cuomo, who was New York's governor from 2005 to 2009.
During the investigation into Chris Cuomo's time at CNN, Mr. Zucker was asked about his relationship with one of his closest coworkers, someone he has worked with for more than 20 years. "I knew that the relationship had changed in recent years." At the start of the project, I was supposed to tell people about it, but I didn't. Was I right?
Because of this, he is stepping down today.
Mr. Zucker was talking about Allison Gollust, CNN's executive vice president and chief marketing officer. She is one of the most important people at the network and is very involved in important business and communication decisions.
As of Wednesday, Ms. Gollust said in a statement that her job at CNN was not going to be changed.
"Jeff and I have been close friends and business partners for more than 20 years," she wrote. "During Covid, our relationship changed." I'm sorry that we didn't tell people about it at the right time. I'm very proud of the work we do at CNN every day, and I can't wait to keep it up.
Both Mr. Zucker and Ms. Gollust have split up.
"We will be announcing an interim leadership plan soon," Jason Kilar, the CEO of WarnerMedia, said in a memo to employees. He said that he had accepted the resignation of Mark Zucker.
When CNN said that it wouldn't pay him severance or keep up with the rest of his contract, Mr. Cuomo disagreed with them. The anchor hired Bryan Freedman, a powerful Hollywood lawyer, to help him fight with the network.
After it was revealed that Mr. Zucker had told Andrew Cuomo's aides how the governor could avoid the sexual harassment scandal that led to his resignation, Mr. Zucker stayed by the governor for months. However, Mr. Zucker dropped his support in December because he learned about more of Mr. Cuomo's involvement, including how he tried to find out the status of pending stories about his brother at other news outlets.
A former junior colleague at another network said that Mr. Cuomo had sexually harassed her. Days before he was fired, CNN was told about this. Mr. Cuomo has said that he doesn't believe that.
In a business that is known for its on-air talent, Mr. Zucker is probably the most well-known figure for people who work behind the scenes. He became a public face of CNN in part because of his public fights with former President Trump, whom he once had a good relationship with. As president of NBC Entertainment, Mr. Zucker made the decision to let Mr. Trump be a reality TV star with "The Apprentice."
As CEO of NBCUniversal in 2007, Mr. Zucker led the company until 2010. He then left the company in 2010. He joined CNN in January 2013. Recent months have seen a lot of work done by Mr. Zucker on CNN+, a subscription streaming service that will start this spring.
It was written in a memo on Wednesday by Mr. Zucker: "Together, we had nine great years." "I wish I could have ended my time here in a different way." But it was a great run. Loved every second of it.