Tuesday, CNN released a statement saying Allison Gollust had resigned from her job as executive VP or marketing. At the time, all CNN said was that an investigation had determined that Gollust, Jeff Zucker and Chris Cuomo had all violated company policy. Today, the NY Times published a story outlining exactly what got Gollust in trouble. It’s pretty amazing that anyone involved thought this was okay.
On a Saturday in March 2020, as Covid-19 was invading the United States, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo went on CNN for a live interview. Among other topics, he was asked about a possible government-enforced quarantine of New York that had been floated by President Donald J. Trump…
Before the interview, Governor Cuomo had told a senior CNN executive, Allison Gollust, about subjects that he’d like to be asked about on air, according to several people familiar with the matter. Ms. Gollust, CNN’s longtime chief of communications and marketing and a former top aide of the governor, passed along the topics to CNN producers and then reported back to the governor.
“Done,” she wrote…
The Cravath lawyers reviewed broadcast transcripts that showed that the anchor asked about the subjects that Ms. Gollust had put forward, the people said.
The story notes that pre-interviews, in which bookers discuss with guests what topics will come up, are standard operating procedure in TV news. What’s unusual here is that a top VP who formerly worked for Gov. Cuomo was getting involved. But a spokesperson for Gollust claimed this is just a pretext for “retaliation.”
Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for Ms. Gollust, said the communications with the governor were appropriate. Ms. Gollust “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,” Ms. Heller said.
She added: “WarnerMedia relying on this everyday practice as justification for dismissing Allison demonstrates how ignorant they are of journalistic practices, and further proves that her dismissal is nothing more than retaliation.”
Notice that Gollust’s spokesperson says she was dismissed, not that she resigned. So if you had any doubt whether she jumped or was pushed, there’s your answer.
The Times reports there were “extensive” communications uncovered between Gollust and Gov. Cuomo but we don’t learn what the rest of those were about. And all of that leads to this paragraph which is probably even now causing Brian Stelter to burst into flames:
The internal investigation’s findings are especially notable because CNN journalists have repeatedly attacked Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity for having an overly close relationship with Republican leaders, in particular Mr. Trump.
Kudos to the Times for making this point because it’s an obvious one but one that probably won’t win them any friends on the left.
Finally, here’s Brian Stelter on Chris Cuomo’s show in 2018 discussing Sean Hannity’s close relationship to Trump. There are two lines in this that really stand out in retrospect. The first is Stelter saying, “I guess this is going to be the new normal that presidents will always have a favorite television show that they’re secretly kind of helping.” And governor’s too it seems.
The second line that stands out is Chris Cuomo pointing out that Morning Joe used to have Trump on all the time. “I was watching the headlines very closely because I believe it worked against us here because we didn’t have that kind of access because we weren’t [kiss, kiss, kiss] with Donald Trump all the time,” Cuomo said. Two years later he would have that kind of access with the hero of the pandemic and it would end up creating a huge problem for him and CNN.