Chris Cuomo Most Likely to Get $9 Million as Payment to Keep Quiet About Jeff Zucker
00:36 GMT 05.02.2022 (Updated: 19:56 GMT 18.10.2022)
© Evan AgostiniCNN anchor Chris Cuomo attends the 12th annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Cuomo has told viewers that he “tried to do the right thing” when balancing his role as a journalist and brother to outgoing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced his resignation following allegations of sexual harassment. Chris Cuomo returned to the air Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, for the first time following his brother's announcement and addressed what has become an awkward issue for his employer.
© Evan Agostini
Cuomo, who was fired in December of 2021 from CNN after attempting to stall sexual harassment allegations surrounding his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, will allegedly receive $9 million to stop him from filing a lawsuit involving Jeff Zucker, the former president of CNN who resigned on Wednesday.
Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN, made an abrupt resignation on Wednesday, which was in response to his failure to disclose a romantic relationship he was having with a colleague. Zucker’s announcement was made in a company-wide email to staff in which he admitted to his failure to disclose his relationship with colleague Allison Gollust, though he did not mention her by name. Gollust has also admitted to the relationship.
"I acknowledge the relationship evolved in recent years," Zucker said. "I was required to disclose it when it began, but I didn't. I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today,” Zucker wrote in an email which was shared in a tweet by CNN’s Brian Stelter.
The resignation of Zucker over his affair is rumored to be a cover up for deeper and more damning allegations against the resigned media executive. Allegedly, the affair between Zucker and Gollust came to light while Chris Cuomo was planning a lawsuit that presented close ties between former Governor Andrew Cuomo, Jeff Zucker, and Allison Gollust.
Those allegations suggest that Zucker and Gollust coached the former governor on how to best present his daily press conferences during the pandemic, as well as feeding him lines to use for responding to criticism by then President Donald Trump.
Chris Cuomo’s suit was in an attempt to secure the remainder of his contract for $18 million from CNN. Apparently, the former news anchor has been told he will see just half of that for a reported $9 million.
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar was informed by the lawyers involved in Chris Cuomo’s case of Zucker’s failure to disclose his relationship with his colleague to the company, leading Kilar to force Zucker into resignation after he worked for the company for nine years. Kilnar has been the CEO of WarnerMedia since May 1, 2020. Previously, he was an Amazon executive and the CEO of Hulu.
The animosity of the two CEOs had reached its peak. “They weren’t fire and ice, they were fire and gasoline,” said one CNN insider of Kilar and Zucker’s relationship.
But Zucker is said to have been named “numerous times” in a draft version of Cuomo’s lawsuit. His resignation is said to be an agreement with AT&T chief John Stakey. AT&T owns CNN. Zucker’s resignation will give AT&T the chance to duke things out in court, in an effort to secure privacy for himself as Cuomo’s lawsuit has the capability of presenting damaging information about Zucker.
“While Zucker paid the price stepping down as top dog of a global television network, he did so with the agreement that he would keep a piece of his privacy for leaving quickly and without a fight,” sources told the New York Post.
There have yet to be any court filings from Chris Cuomo in pursuit of the $18 million, only preliminary chats including a letter from a Freedman & Taitelman LLP attorney asking CNN and WarnerMedia for “preservation of relevant evidence,” according to Deadline. The note from the law firm also asks for the safeguarding of “documents including correspondence related to any appearances by Andrew Cuomo on CNN,” which could reveal the supposedly damaging correspondence between Zucker, Gollust and the former governor.
Zucker’s resignation comes at a bad time for the network. They have yet to find a replacement for Chris Cuomo, and their viewership has dropped dramatically in the past year thanks to a contentious period when Trump constantly referred to the network as “fake news”.
Kilar hosted a meeting with CNN staffers in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night. One source referred to the meeting as a, “s*** show.” CNN’s best known anchors were supposedly leveling complaints against both Kilar and Cuomo while remaining loyal toward Zucker.
CNN’s Jake Tapper compared Chris Cuomo to a terrorist getting his way in a leaked audio clip obtained by Business Insider.
“Jason, if you could address the perception that Chris Cuomo gets fired by CNN, Chris Cuomo hires a high-powered lawyer who has a scorched-earth policy, who then makes it very clear to the world that unless Jeff gives Chris Cuomo his money, they’re going to blow the place up,” he posed as a question to Jason Kilar.
“I think the issue is that it’s not a perception. What Jake just described is actually what happened here. Chris Cuomo is a man scorned because he was fired for being held accountable for his actions, and Jeff is part of the result of this. It sounds like you did not consult any other executives on removing a critical part of the company, and I think that's the frustration here,” CNN’s chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins said in response to Tapper’s statement at the same meeting.
Chief domestic correspondent Jim Acosta also spoke up in the meeting, saying “If we had not had Jeff Zucker here during the Trump administration, we probably would have been taken out. You would have something like ‘Fox News Light’ on CNN right now, no offense.”
Much of the frustration is in response to the fact that many knew about the relationship between Zucker and Gollust, who are both divorced, and do not see it as a liable reason for Zucker to have been forced out of CNN. According to the Daily Mail, AT&T is in the process of making a deal with Discovery for $43 billion, in which they would join a major chain of TV networks and streaming services. Stankey, who is focused on closing the deal, did not want Zucker’s scandal involving Gollust to jeopardize the deal.