Ousted CNN executive Allison Gollust was found to have allowed former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to dictate what he wanted to be asked during an on-air interview in the early days of the pandemic, a report said Friday.
Gollust, 49, who briefly worked for the disgraced ex-gov as his communications director, passed the suggested topics along to junior producers, and wrote “Done” in an e-mailed reply to Cuomo’s request before a 2020 interview, The New York Times reported.
The messages were uncovered during an internal investigation into alleged workplace misconduct by since-fired star anchor Chris Cuomo, the report said.
Chris Cuomo, the ex-governor’s brother, was fired in December after CNN received a letter claiming he had sexually assaulted a former co-worker in his office during a foodless “lunch” in 2011, the paper reported earlier this week. Cuomo had denied the accusation.
Cuomo had been under scrutiny over his efforts to help his brother battle the sexual-misconduct allegations that ultimately forced him to resign over the summer.
The Post previously reported on former CNN boss Jeff Zucker and his paramour Gollust’s inappropriately close friendship with Andrew Cuomo, including personally calling him to do news segments with his brother and even coaching him on what to say during his COVID briefings.
Gollust and Zucker — the latter of whom dramatically quit CNN this month after their affair was exposed — also gave Andrew Cuomo endless positive coverage because of their relationship, sources said.
According to the Times, Cuomo told Gollust, CNN’s longtime communications and marketing chief, that he wanted to discuss a recent conversation with then-President Donald Trump and New York’s COVID lockdown during a March 28, 2020, appearance. The topics were newsworthy, but it was unusual for a senior executive to be involved in the pre-interview process with her ex-employer.
Zucker knew about many of the exchanges between Gollust and Cuomo, the paper reported.
Zucker was forced to resign, ostensibly for not disclosing his romantic relationship with Gollust. The real catalyst for his dismissal, however, was the cozy relationship that investigators uncovered between Zucker, Gollust and the Cuomos after sifting through thousands of e-mails and texts, according to the report.
Gollust resigned earlier this week. She faced pressure to step down because corporate brass at CNN found her statement about the extent of her romantic relationship with Zucker to be “misleading,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Shortly after the consensual office romance was made public, Gollust had said her relationship with Zucker “changed during COVID.” But some employees at parent company WarnerMedia and CNN didn’t buy it, the Journal reported. Rumors had circulated for years that the two execs had been having an affair, which played a part in ending both their marriages.
A spokeswoman for Gollust told the Journal: “Continuing to publicly debate the private details of her personal life reeks of sexism and only further underscores WarnerMedia’s retaliatory actions against her.”
Risa Heller, a Gollust spokeswoman, also defended her journalistic integrity, and said WarnerMedia was ignorant of the “everyday [newsroom] practice,” and forced her out as “retaliation.”
Gollust’s discussions with Cuomo “in no way suggested that inclusion of these topics was a condition of the interview, nor did she suggest the interview should be limited to these subjects,” Heller told the Times.