The End of the Most Toxic Man in Media

As we covered earlier, Jeff Zucker announced his resignation to a “stunned CNN” after an investigation of the Chris Cuomo scandal at the network revealed an extramarital affair with CNN executive Allison Gollust.

If the name doesn’t sound familiar, here’s her official CNN biography (emphasis mine).

Gollust serves as chief spokesperson for the news brand and leads marketing, publicity and public relations teams in New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles. Her role as CMO gives her responsibility for brand strategy and marketing efforts for all of the brands within the CNN Worldwide portfolio. Gollust oversees CNN’s creative marketing, events, on-air promotions, off-channel and digital marketing efforts as well.

Prior to joining CNN, Gollust served as communications director for New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Prior to that, she was executive vice president of corporate communications for NBC Universal, where she oversaw all aspects of the company’s global communications efforts. She started at NBC in the Corporate Communications group in 1996 and was named senior publicist for Today in 1997. With successive promotions, Gollust added responsibility for communications efforts supporting NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and the Weather Channel, and signature programs including NBC Nightly News, Dateline and Meet the Press. She began her career as a news anchor, reporter and producer in Denver. Gollust resides in New York City with her two daughters.

And she was actually accused by Ari Fleischer as the person responsible for protecting Chris Cuomo at CNN initially.

Allison Gollust was Cuomo’s communications director before becoming executive vice president at CNN — where she was even recently tapped to replace Jeff Zucker as Worldwide President, Fox News has noted.

“CNN has a real ethical problem on its hands,” former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told Fox News on Wednesday,

Fleischer was adamant that Chris Cuomo had escaped punishment for his role in advising his brother over his mushrooming scandal because of the influence of Gollust.

“She now runs the show, she’s the number two to Jeff Zucker at CNN,” the former aide to George W. Bush told Fox.

If you read the reactions on Twitter, the only people who appear to be surprised are the people who work at CNN. Most of the other reactions are best summed up by Ben Smith, who reports on the media at the New York Times.

If guys like Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy are “stunned” by this, they haven’t been paying attention. Zucker oversaw Matt Lauer at the height of his most scandalous behavior, and he allowed the same behavior at CNN, which saw a major journalistic ethics violation in the way Chris Cuomo handled his coverage of his brother, then-governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, and then helped advise his brother and even use his sources to try to identify the women who were making claims against him.

Perhaps if CNN’s actual media reporters paid attention to the media, they might not have been so shocked! Everything about this was entirely predictable.

Indeed, this is all the Cuomo investigation claiming more heads, as was entirely expected. There was very little reason to believe Zucker’s job wouldn’t be affected in some way over the Cuomo scandal. But, more importantly, that investigation has claimed the head of the most toxic man in media.

Zucker was originally praised for bringing more documentary-based content to CNN. When Trump rose to political power during the 2016 election cycle, under Zucker’s direction CNN focused their coverage on him to the point that he received the equivalent of millions in free advertising. When he became the nominee, all of the coverage turned extremely negative. They were openly combative during his presidency, using all of their coverage to appeal to the “resistance” types and those who just wanted to watch a good sideshow.

But in the post-Trump era, the network under Zucker began to bleed viewers. Ratings have been consistently in the toilet, with stretches of time that the network couldn’t break 1 million viewers during prime time – which belonged to the two most opinionated hosts on the network in Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon.

Zucker’s focus on those two, in particular, is emblematic of why his reign has been so awful. There are guys who are more news than opinion at the network, but they are constantly being overshadowed. Instead, Jim Acosta is given a key anchor role after his circus act sparring with Trump whenever cameras were on.

If there is any reason that viewers’ trust in the media in general and CNN, in particular, has tanked, it’s the fact that Zucker designed the network to be an opinionated network that was supposed to attract partisan consumers. It failed miserably, primarily because the personalities he chose were just diet versions of what was already offered at MSNBC. People who wanted those kinds of opinions already had a place to get them. They weren’t going to go with Lemon, who is just Rachel Maddow Lite.

The way the entertainment industry works, Zucker’s job might not have been in such danger had the ratings not tanked. But not even the corrupt media industry can protect you if you aren’t producing results, and every single gain CNN made has been entirely wiped out.

Zucker is an absolutely toxic person, and his toxicity has morally bankrupted CNN. There is no reason why Americans should trust CNN anymore, and they have fled the network in large numbers.

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