Everything Is Status Quo at CNN, Meaning Their Tire Fire Rages on as Another Executive Is Sent Away

The latest news, while not surprising, reveals the problems are far from over at CNN.

The ongoing telenovela taking place behind the scenes at CNN had a new episode drop last evening, and it appears a resolution to the internal drama is far from over. In the wake of President Jeffrey Zucker being compelled to resign there have been numerous reactions from staffers and on-air talent, most in the form of tear-filled epilogues. 


The delivery from much of the talent implied an unfair decision had been handed down, but all signs point to an incoming management team looking to clean house and restore character to a sense of waning respectability at the network. Upheaval appears to be the condition of things in the meantime, and the recent government approval of the Warner Media- Discovery merger – as well as the impending rollout of the new CNN streaming service – means a state of flux will be ongoing.

The announcement came down last night that Zucker’s paramour, Allison Gollust, was stepping down from her post at CNN, two weeks following her lover’s departure. The way the news was delivered, and the explanation for her dismissal-retirement indicate that all is not well in the executive suites in Atlanta. Warner Media CEO Jason Kilar released a memo announcing the news.

Gollust has come out with her own statement on the matter, and she seems a bit perturbed that the announcement came out in this fashion. She indicates that it was supposed to have been announced by her, not Kilar, and she implies that this was done as a form of possible scapegoating.


The interesting aspect of this is that Gollust’s ouster is being presented as something apart from Zucker’s stated reason for his exit. It was then that the explanation was their relationship – something many said was an open secret at the network – was not properly disclosed and violated corporate policy. Last night, we were told that Gollust had been found to be in violation of corporate standards, not in the form of personal impropriety but by violating professional guidelines. Telling is the phrase, “The investigation found violation of company policies, including CNN’s news standards and practices, by Allison Gollust, Jeff Zucker, and Chris Cuomo.”

This becomes an eye-opening detail. The indication here is one I have been alluding to for months, and that is that Time Warner is taking a stern approach to the flagging network. I mentioned in November that the permissiveness of Cuomo’s on-air antics was coming to an end and the primetime host could be facing actual punishment for a change, after years of free rein. It was a short time later that Cuomo was suspended, then ultimately let go.

The telling part of last night’s memo is that not only was there an internal investigation taking place at CNN by an outside entity, but that this has been in the works for months. (Emphasis mine)


Performed by a third-party law firm and led by a former federal judge, the investigation was thorough and definitive. It was commissioned in September and concluded this weekend.

That detail indicates a five-month effort has been in place all this time. Weigh that detail against all of the CNN personalities who have expressed shock and surprise at the developments over the past couple of weeks. The likes of Jake Tapper and Brian Stelter had to have been aware of the Warner Media investigation, considering dozens of staff members were interviewed, and 100,000 internal communications and documents were reviewed. 

Their surprise looks to have been a veiled reaction unless these journalists were completely oblivious to what was playing out under their own roof. After Zucker’s exodus, Stelter mourned his firing by recalling how he was a fixture and that Brian worked in close proximity to his office. It seems more than unlikely the media monitor was in the dark about the probe into the actions of the upper management.

AP Photo/Ron Harris

Kilar, and the incoming management at Warner-Discovery, appear to be enforcing a new level of standard at the network. Not just dealing with obstinate talent, the willingness to apply this militant approach to the upper level of management shows the new bosses are not afraid to take drastic action. When they are in possession of a network that is foundering like CNN, there is little risk in revamping top to bottom. This is more than a shakeup, it appears to be a restructuring taking place.


The reaction by Gollust shows this tendency. Kilar did not appear all too interested in honoring a supposed agreement to allow her to go out on her terms. Her claim that her firing was some form of petty retribution is dissolved by the fact that a months-long investigation into things revealed fireable offenses. Linking her, and Zucker, to Chris Cuomo, is the tell that there were found ample reasons to let them go. 

That the top names in the executive offices were made so vulnerable has to be sending tremors throughout the lineup of CNN. In a matter of weeks, the top-rated show has been scuttled and the CEO has been sent away. That said, no one can be said to be sitting in a position of strength at CNN.


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