Ex-CNN executive discussed interview topics with Andrew Cuomo: report

AP, Getty Images

Former top marketing executive at CNN, Allison Gollust, allegedly discussed interview topics with former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) before Cuomo was set to make a March 2020 appearance on CNN, The New York Times reported, citing several people familiar.

The law firm Cravath Swaine & Moore, which last fall launched an internal probe into former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and allegations of workplace misconduct, in its investigation found communications between the former CNN executive and former governor regarding topics he wanted to discuss before an appearance on the network, those people told The Times.

Before a scheduled March 28, 2020 appearance, Cuomo mentioned three subjects, including what it would mean for New Yorkers to be placed under lockdown and a recent phone conversation he had with then-President Trump, that he wanted to discuss on the network, according to the newspaper.

CNN staff received messages from Gollust afterward asking that Cuomo be asked about those subjects, The Times reported.

The people who spoke with the newspaper noted that Gollust was a previous employee of Cuomo, having worked with him between late 2012 and early 2013. 

Risa Heller, a spokesperson for Gollust, said in a statement that The Times’s report was a “complete misrepresentation of the facts” and claimed that it was widely known throughout the network that she was “the principal booker” for Cuomo during the beginning of the pandemic “so he could share critical public health information on CNN’s air.”

“On one single occasion, Governor Cuomo suggested to Allison he hoped to be asked about three topics during an interview on CNN — all of which were prominent news topics covered by many outlets that same news cycle, including The New York Times. Allison relayed that information to CNN staffers, and 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,” Heller claimed. 

“It is extremely common for newsmakers and elected officials to tell producers what topics they’d like to cover during an interview. 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,” she added.

A spokesperson for WarnerMedia said they did not have any comment on the matter beyond a statement that was issued by the company earlier this week.
“Based on interviews of more than 40 individuals and a review of over 100,000 texts and emails, the investigation found violations of Company policies, including CNN’s News Standards and Practices, by Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust, and Chris Cuomo. We have the highest standards of journalistic integrity at CNN, and those rules apply to everyone equally,” WarnerMedia said. 

It is the latest development to roil the network. The CEO of WarnerMedia, Jason Kilar, told employees in a memo on Tuesday evening that Gollust had resigned from CNN after the internal investigation had concluded.

Updated: 10:20 p.m.

Tags Allison Gollust Andrew Cuomo Andrew Cuomo Chris Cuomo CNN Donald Trump Jeff Zucker
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