For a network that touts itself as “the most trusted name in the news,” CNN is doing an even better job than usual of establishing its worth. On his show “Reliable Sources” Sunday, the news network’s own media reporter, Brian Stelter,” lamented the legal mess his bosses are in after three high profile departures.
Jeff Zucker and Allison Gollust are former employees and former top prime-time anchor Chris Cuomo. The shakeup began with the December firing of Cuomo, brother of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, after an investigation into his work to assist his brother through waves of sexual misconduct allegations. Months after the Governor was forced out in August, the network claimed to have just found out Chris Cuomo was assisting his brother and handed him his walking papers.
All those “brotherly interviews” conducted during the pandemic lockdowns were the height of journalistic integrity for the most trusted name in the news.
Stelter also acknowledged the personal involvement of both Zucker and Gollust in CNN’s reporting of the Governor’s defense against multiple accusers, and Zucker clung to the prime-time breadwinner even as calls increased to part ways with Chris Cuomo. Zucker relented when left with no choice, only to be sued by the second now-unemployed Cuomo brother. As Cuomo’s legal team prepared their case, it came to light that Zucker had ethical lapses of his own in being involved in a relationship with Gollust. As this is the textbook definition of hypocritical, Cuomo’s lawyers raised this issue and demanded that CNN preserve communications between Zucker, Gollust, and Cuomo.
This whirlwind of controversy led to Zucker’s resignation as the head of CNN, which only increased speculation about the apparent conflict of interest at the top of the network, which had less than two months earlier fired Cuomo for a conflict of interest. And, since it takes two to tango, Zucker’s love interest at the network ended up following him out the door with her resignation earlier this month. Now reports have surfaced that Gollust, who once worked for Governor Cuomo as his communications director, allowed him to select interview topics for on-air questions during the early days of the pandemic. An internal investigation uncovered the practice, which is likely not taught at journalism school.
The network’s launch of CNN+, its new streaming service, is coming next month, and some at the network worry about the negative attention drawn by “the most trusted name in the news” and if Americans are going to be willing to shell out $5.99 a month for what they will regurgitate.