CNN’s new owner sees Jeff Zucker exit as ‘fresh start’

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Jeff Zucker’s sudden resignation from CNN shocked company employees and television personalities alike, but it reportedly isn’t a source of major concerns for the executives at Discovery Inc., the network’s future parent company.

Discovery Inc. executives are treating Zucker’s untimely exit as a “fresh start” for CNN ahead of a pending merger with WarnerMedia, according to CNN’s media reporter, Brian Stelter.

Discovery’s top boss received no advance notice that Zucker would step down for failing to properly disclose a relationship with another senior executive. Discovery CEO David Zaslav — described as a “longtime friend” of Zucker — was reportedly informed of his impending resignation just hours before it happened.

CNN lost its president just weeks before the network is scheduled to launch its CNN+ streaming service — an initiative touted as a major anchor for its future.

Discovery is expected to appoint Zucker’s permanent replacement when the merger with WarnerMedia receives formal approval. Sources told Stelter the deal is expected to be completed by April or May of this year.

Gollust
Gollust, a former communications director for ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, did not resign from her position at CNN.
AP

Stelter noted reports that Zucker’s exit could eventually give Zaslav more control over operations at CNN and its fledging streaming service, without the departed executive’s influence.

In the meantime, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar appointed a trio of longtime CNN executives — Michael Bass, Amy Entelis and Ken Jautz — to take over Zucker’s responsibilities. In early staff meetings, the three executives have reportedly acknowledged that “many unknowns” remain about the network’s current course.

Zucker had served as president of CNN Worldwide since 2013. He also oversaw WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports division prior to his departure.

at&t discovery warner media
Discovery’s merger with WarnerMedia is expected to close later this spring.
REUTERS

In his resignation memo to staffers, Zucker said his romantic relationship with the executive — later identified as CNN chief marketing officer Allison Gollust — emerged during an investigation into fired CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who was scrutinized for his involvement in aiding his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his response to allegations of sexual misconduct.

“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,” Zucker said. “I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today.”

The Post reported that Zucker and Gollust also had an inappropriately close relationship with Gov. Cuomo — including calls to advise him on how to respond at press conferences during his feud with President Donald Trump.

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