It seems Katie Couric was not too surprised to hear that CNN President Jeff Zucker was stepping down.
Yesterday, many were shocked when the CNN boss suddenly announced his resignation after failing to disclose his relationship with CNN’s Chief Marketing Officer, Allison Gollust, who is expected to stay at CNN despite calls for her to step down.
Katie Couric Speaks Out: Many ‘Tuned A Blind Eye To Inappropriate Behavior’
After Zucker announced his resignation, Couric, 65, spoke out in her “Wake-Up Call” newsletter, saying people “turned a blind eye to inappropriate behavior.” Couric hosted NBC’s TODAY show from 1991 to 2006. Zucker worked at NBCUniversal for two decades and served as President and CEO from 2007 to 2011.
“I worked with Jeff Zucker for many years at NBC and later on my talk show. He was a talented and energetic producer,” Couric wrote. “His resignation took me by surprise. I’ve also known Allison Gollust since my days at the TODAY Show.”
“I’ve wondered about the nature of their relationship, but I do know, as I wrote in my memoir ‘Going There’, that it made me uncomfortable,” she continued. “It seems their colleagues and the media at large turned a blind eye to inappropriate behavior.”
Katie Couric Noticed Zucker & Gollust Were ‘Joined At The Hip’
— Irin Carmon (@irin) February 2, 2022
In her memoir published last October, Couric stated that Zucker previously “made a huge push to bring on Allison Gollust” at NBCUniversal.
“When we worked together at NBC, she and Jeff cooked up even bolder ways to draw attention to TODAY and later Jeff himself when he moved to Entertainment,” Couric wrote in her memoir. “They were joined at the hip.”
She added, “The problem was, we’d already hired a PR person for the show. There wasn’t a role for Allison. Jeff asked me to meet with her anyway.”
In the excerpt, Couric said that she wondered “why Jeff was angling so hard to bring Allison on board” and recalled the time when Gollust “and her husband and kids had moved into the apartment above” the one Zucker shared with his now ex-wife, Caryn Nathanson. Zucker and Nathanson had four children together and finalized their divorce in 2018.
“Everyone who heard about the cozy arrangement thought it was super strange,” Couric wrote. “By that point, [Zucker’s then-wife] Caryn had become a close friend and it made me really uncomfortable.”
Jeff Zucker Announces His Resignation After Failing To Disclose ‘Consensual Relationship’
Jeff Zucker just announced his resignation to a stunned CNN. pic.twitter.com/sWXYNBO20d
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 2, 2022
CNN’s Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter posted Zucker’s resignation announcement to Twitter.
“As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years,” he began.
“I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years,” he continued. “I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong.”
“As a result, I am resigning today,” he continued.
“I came to CNN on January 28, 2013, he went on. “Together, we had nine great years. I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently. But it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute.”
“I am grateful to the thousands of incredibly talented CNN and Turner Sports employees who helped make this such a joy for me, and such a success for all of us, he concluded. “I wish each of you nothing but the best in the years ahead.”
He signed off the message “With gratitude and much love. Jeff.”
Allison Gollust Addresses Affair: ‘Our Relationship Changed During COVID’
“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,” Allison Gollust says in a statement.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 2, 2022
Although Zucker did not name his colleague in the memo, Allison Gollust issued her own statement and said that she will continue to work at CNN.
In her statement, Gollust said that “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.”
“I’m incredibly proud of my time at CNN and look forward to continuing the great work we do every day,” she added. Gollust came to CNN after leaving NBC in 2013, where she and Zucker had previously worked together for 15 years.
In April 2017, the Daily Mail reported that Zucker and Gollust had gotten into a public argument at the Hollywood Reporter’s 35 Most Powerful People in NY Media Party.
According to witnesses who were at the party, Zucker and Gollust started “intensely speaking and making anguished hand gestures before Gollust stormed away into the crowd.”
“It was something they were dealing with at CNN all day,” a source said at the time. “It wasn’t an argument.” One unnamed executive reportedly mocked, “It looked like she was reprimanding her husband or something.”
CNN Employees Call For Allison Gollust To Step Down
According to the New York Post, many female employees are “furious” that Gollust gets to keep her job after “lying” about her affair with Zucker “for years.”
One employee allegedly asked, “Why is she allowed to keep her job?”
“CNN is supposed to be a transparent news network,” another employee reportedly said. “How does she get away with lying about their affair for so long?”
Gollust said in her statement that her relationship with Zucker had changed during COVID-19, but one inside source claimed that her comment was “a total lie.”
“They have been together for years,” the employee allegedly claimed. “And she’s still lying about it today… the statement she made that ‘recently our relationship changed during COVID’ is a total lie.”
Later in the day, Stelter tweeted that Zucker “indicated he would have preferred to stay on for a short period, to help with a smooth transition, but WarnerMedia wanted otherwise.”