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Jeff Zucker, Chris Cuomo Violated CNN’s News Standards, Network Says

Former CNN President Jeff Zucker violated the network’s news standards and practices prior to his resignation earlier this month, as did former star anchor Chris Cuomo, according to a memo sent to CNN staff on Tuesday.

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said independent investigators had spoken to more than 40 people and reviewed 100,000 texts and emails, adding that the results were “troubling” and “disappointing.”

Zucker resigned last month, causing a seismic shift in the highest echelons of media, because he didn’t disclose a romantic relationship with colleague Allison Gollust, CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Gollust had stayed in her role at the time of the revelation, but also resigned on Tuesday after investigators found she, too, had violated company policies.

Zucker’s departure came shortly after Cuomo was fired in December for defending his brother, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, against sexual misconduct allegations and working to discredit his brother’s accusers.

“We have the highest standards of journalistic integrity at CNN, and those rules must apply to everyone equally,” Kilar said in the memo. “Given the information provided to me in the investigation, I strongly believe we have taken the right actions and the right decisions have been made.”

Kilar didn’t elaborate on the investigation’s findings, but The New York Times reported Tuesday that Zucker’s departure was potentially linked to the revelations that resulted in Cuomo’s ouster and the sexual assault allegations against him (Cuomo denies the claims).

Lawyers probing the then-host’s behavior reportedly asked Zucker how he had handled Cuomo’s suspension and firing and if he knew about the host’s work for his brother.

Zucker’s spokesperson rejected any assertions that Zucker was aware of Cuomo’s aid to his brother, telling the Times: “Jeff was never aware of the full extent of what Chris Cuomo was doing for his brother, which is why Chris was fired.”

Gollust responded to Kilar’s comments later Tuesday in a letter to colleagues, accusing WarnerMedia of attempting to “retaliate against me and change the media narrative in the wake of their disastrous handling of the last two weeks.”

“It is deeply disappointing that after spending the past nine years defending and upholding CNN’s highest standards of journalistic integrity, I would be so treated this way as I leave,” she said, adding that she believed the company would let her announce her own departure. “But I do so with my head held high, knowing that I gave my heart and soul to working with the finest journalists in the world.”


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