Jeff Zucker stepped down as president of CNN last week after acknowledging his failure to disclose a romantic relationship with a longtime aide and network executive, Allison Gollust, who serves as chief marketing officer.
The resignation, which came as a consequence of findings from the legal battle over former primetime anchor Chris Cuomo’s termination, made shockwaves in the media as CNN undergoes an identity crisis in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s presidency.
“We lost our leader this week, but we’re not going anywhere,” said CNN’s chief media apologist Brian Stelter on Sunday despite inside calls to fire the host of “Reliable Sources” for his failure to report on the relationship at his own network.
Other anchors in mourning offered similar messages of condolence and vigilance. It appears, however, the Democrats running the authoritarian-style witch hunt to persecute political dissidents in the House will be the hardest hit.
In the aftermath of Zucker’s fallout, the L.A. Times published a story on CNN staff in the Washington bureau grilling WarnerMedia Chief Executive Jason Kilar over Zucker’s abrupt departure. Among them was Jamie Gangel.
‘I think we’ve heard a lot of corporate double talk,’ she said. ‘I think the company has made a terrible mistake by doing this.’
Gangel said she received calls from four members of the congressional committee investigation the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol ‘who felt devastated for our democracy’ now that Zucker has exited CNN.
Because every move opposed by the principal leaders of the Jan. 6 Committee is devastating “for our democracy.”
“I do not think you have any appreciation for what you’ve done to this organization,” Gangel reportedly told Kilar.
Zucker’s absence, of course, is likely to interrupt investigators on Jan. 6 Committee who’ve relied on the network’s left-wing activism to serve as the public arm for the weaponized probe. CNN has become the go-to outlet for committee leaks while offering a platform for its panel members to stoke its latest conspiracies about the Capitol riot on air.
Last summer, CNN livestreamed the committee’s first hearing with public testimony from four Capitol Police officers and produced a soap opera town hall on the one-year anniversary of the unrest. Zucker’s role at the helm transforming the news network into an anti-Trump operation played no small role in shaping CNN as the PR firm for the Jan. 6 investigators.
Who will replace Zucker at the top of CNN’s leadership? A successor is not likely to be announced right away, but it’s possible the next network chief may steer CNN away from leftist politics that it’s embraced to dismal ratings with “9 out of 10 viewers, gone.”
“The new owner, John Malone, has signaled a new hardened news focus, so removing Zucker makes the makeover that was planned for CNN easier with him out of the mix,” crisis communications expert Eric Rose told The Hill. “There might be internal strife at CNN and it might be a pivotal moment … but at the same time they’re signaling their new way of doing business.”
The Jan. 6 Committee might need to find a new PR firm.