A former CNN anchor ridiculed Allison Gollust’s claim that her romantic relationship with Jeff Zucker began during the pandemic, saying the affair dated back many years and that anybody can “google” it.
Soledad O’Brien, who held various roles at the network from 2003 to 2013, described Zucker’s relationship with Gollust, CNN’s chief marketing officer, as an “open secret” among staffers dating back more than a decade.
That’s despite the fact that Gollust claimed on Wednesday her relationship with Zucker only turned romantic during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years. Recently, our relationship changed during COVID,” Gollust said in a statement. “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.”
Gollust’s statement came despite widely distributed accounts of their affair dating back for years, including reports that it led to Zucker’s divorce from his wife Caryn in 2018. In her tell-all memoir published last fall, Katie Couric dished that Zucker and Gollust were “joined at the hip” when they worked together at NBC more than a decade ago.
“I find the ‘it started during Covid’ claim pretty amusing,” O’Brien wrote on Twitter.
“I encourage you to google the two parties and read the details about their relationship that dates back years,” O’Brien said. “That said, I’m sure company emails can easily determine if she’s lying in this statement.”
“Again—It was an open secret and I haven’t even worked there for like 8 years,” she added.
Zucker surprised the media industry by announcing his immediate resignation on Wednesday morning. In a memo to staffers, he admitted that he failed to properly disclose his relationship with Gollust, with whom he previously worked at NBC.
“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,” Zucker said the a memo. “I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today.”
Sources told the Post that Zucker and Gollust were known to be in a relationship for more than 10 years.
A trio of CNN executives – Michael Bass, Amy Entelis and Ken Jautz – will serve as interim co-heads of the network until WarnerMedia’s pending merger with Discovery is finalized.