‘Good riddance’: Journalists welcome Jeff Zucker’s resignation as CNN president

Zucker announced he is stepping down after admitting to a consensual relationship with a colleague

Media CNN Vaccines
Media CNN Vaccines

Following Jeff Zucker’s shock resignation as CNN president, kind sentiments from his now-former colleagues have been overshadowed by journalists outside the outlet welcoming his departure.

Mr Zucker announced he is stepping down from the role he’s held for decades in a letter to stunned staff on Wednesday after admitting to a consensual relationship with colleague Allison Gollust.

In his resignation letter, Mr Zucker said his relationship with Ms Gollust came to light after an investigation into his handling of the Chris Cuomo scandal.

“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,” Mr Zucker said. “As a result, I am resigning today.”

His resignation came as a shock to journalists at the network, who praised his contribution.

Reliable Sources host Brian Stetler called the news “stunning” as it was announced on air by At This Hour anchor Kate Bolduan. He offered kind words for Mr Zucker, calling him “a larger than life figure for more than a decade” and “the rock of this organization”.

“I think if Zucker was on that call this morning, I know what he would say,” Mr Stelter said. “He would say what’s important at CNN, is not the person on top, it’s the team we all play for. It’s CNN as an organization. This news operation, so much bigger than any single person. And so the news goes on, but now without the top executive.”

Bolduan agreed: “Yep. Keep reporting the news. That’s what he would say.”

But many journalists outside of CNN expressed a very different sentiment: “Good riddance.”

Jennifer Rubin, an opinion writer for The Washington Post, tweeted: “What a total mess. feel sorry for all the quality news people. He botched Cuomo and helped put Trump on the map. Good riddance.”

Steve Morris, a journalist for The Recount, took his criticism a step further.

“Jeff Zucker is one of the most morally bankrupt people alive and one of the most responsible for the deterioration of political media,” he tweeted. “He chose to treat the existence of a multi-racial liberal democracy as less important than getting himself even more rich. Good f***ing riddance.”

Senior Vox correspondent Ian Millhiser tweeted: “I feel like Jeff Zucker has done an objectively terrible job of running CNN. Its ratings are in the toilet. And I have no idea who they view as their target audience, or even if it has occurred to them to target a particular audience.”

Rival network Fox News also jumped on the announcement, welcoming The Hill columnist Joe Concha to share his reaction with Harris Faulkner.

Mr Concha declared: “When you’re looking at the book of Jeff Zucker, his legacy will be taking this news organization and making it a blatantly active organization geared to target conservatives.”

Ms Faulkner then questioned whether the investigation that “took down” Mr Zucker and Mr Cuomo could unearth more scandal in the future.

Meanwhile other Fox personalities sounded off on Twitter, with meteorologist Janice Dean tweeting: “Sounds like Zucker should have been fired instead of allowed to resign.”

Outside the media world, former President Donald Trump, who has long held CNN and Zucker among his top enemies, was quick to issue a gleefully scathing statement celebrating the news.

“Jeff Zucker, a world-class sleazebag who has headed ratings and real-news-challenged CNN for far too long, has been terminated for numerous reasons, but predominantly because CNN has lost its way with viewers…Jeff Zucker is gone—congratulations to all!” he wrote in a statement.

Donald Trump Jr similarly praised the news, invoking a Godfather character whose name became a popular insult by the former president. “Fredo took down Zucker!” Mr Trump Jr wrote in a tweet.

Mr Zucker, 56, joined CNN in 2013 from NBC and was credited with driving the cable news network to ratings success in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

“Together we had nine great years. I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently. But it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute.”

Ms Gollust, CNN’s chief marketing officer, wrote in a separate memo to staff that she would be remaining in her job.

“Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years. Recently, our relationship changed during COVID.

“I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time. I’m incredibly proud of my time at CNN and look forward to continuing the great work we do everyday.”

Mr Zucker was married to former Saturday Night Live producer Caryn Nathanson from 1996 to 2019 and they have four children together.

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