Chris Cuomo was reportedly fired from CNN after a secret ‘assault’ allegation was made against him by a woman he allegedly ‘badgered for sex’ when he worked at ABC News.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that a lawyer representing a woman who had worked with Cuomo years earlier at ABC News claimed the anchor had sexually assaulted her in 2011, but that years later, in the heat of the #MeToo movement, the CNN network host allegedly attempted to keep her quiet by arranging a flattering CNN segment about her employer at the time. It’s unclear when the segment would have aired.
The unnamed woman is represented by Debra S. Katz and referred to as ‘Jane Doe,’ who was a young temp at ABC who was hoping for a full-time job at the time, The Times reported.
The woman did not wish to be identified and has requested privacy, said Katz, adding that the woman is ‘deeply traumatized’ and doesn’t want to become ‘a pawn in an internecine war between [former network president Jeff] Zucker, Chris Cuomo and CNN.’
The letter relays an encounter between Cuomo and Jane Doe. He had reportedly offered Jane Doe career advice and invited her to lunch in his office, according to the letter, The Times’ interviews and emails between Jane Doe and Cuomo.
When she arrived for lunch, there was no food and Cuomo allegedly badgered her for sex. After she declined, he allegedly assaulted her, according to the letter, and she then ran out of the room.
A spokesman for Cuomo denied the allegations outlined in the letter.
Late Tuesday, a spokesperson for the former CNN anchor issued a statement regarding The New York Times report.
‘It is clear this was never about an undisclosed relationship,’ according to the statement posted to Twitter by a Wall Street Journal reporter. ‘As Mr. Cuomo has stated previously, Mr. Zucker and Ms. [Allison] Gollust were not only entirely aware but fully supportive of what he was doing to help his brother. The still open question is when Warner Media is going to release the results of its investigation and explain its supposed basis for terminating Mr. Cuomo.’
On the same day as the encounter, the unnamed woman reportedly sent friendly emails and tried to smooth things over with Cuomo.
Years later, during the #MeToo movement, Cuomo allegedly proposed arranging a CNN segment about the company where Jane Doe then worked doing public relations. Although she avoided contact with Cuomo, the network ran the segment.
‘After years without any substantive communication from Mr. Cuomo whatsoever, Ms. Doe suspected he was concerned about her coming forward publicly with her allegations and wanted to use the proposed segment as an opportunity to ”test the waters” and discourage her from going on the record about his sexual misconduct,’ Katz wrote in the letter.
Chris Cuomo (pictured giving testimony from AG investigation into his brother Andrew) was reportedly fired from CNN after a secret ‘assault’ allegation was made against him by a woman he allegedly ‘badgered for sex’ when he worked at ABC News. It was initially reported that he was fired for using his media influence to help his brother then-Governor Andrew Cuomo navigate scandals
In November, CNN president Jeff Zucker told Cuomo (right) they were suspending him for his involvement with helping his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (left) amid the sexual assault allegations made against the politician. The brothers are pictured at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018.
Chris and Cristina have been married since 2001
Cristina and Chris share three children, Bella, Carolina and Mario – named after Chris’ governor father
In November, then-CNN president Jeff Zucker told Cuomo they were suspending him for his involvement with helping his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, amid the sexual assault allegations made against the politician.
Chris Cuomo reportedly offered to resign and Zucker allegedly informed him that he might be able to return to the network at some point.
But 24 hours after Zucker suspended Cuomo, the letter from the woman’s lawyer arrived at CNN describing Cuomo’s suspension as an ‘abuse of power at CNN to attempt to silence my client,’ according to The Times.
Later that week, Zucker fired Cuomo, telling him that a drumbeat of scandals had become ‘too much for us,’ according to the newspaper.
Zucker himself resigned on February 2 after revealing his romantic relationship with executive Allison Gollust.
Chris Cuomo has always maintained that Jeff Zucker, pictured, knew of extent to which he had helped his brother while he was in office with the network boss ignoring calls to fire him for months
Zucker and Gollust (pictured in 2019) had worked together for 20 years. They claim their relationship turned romantic during the pandemic but others say it far predates COVID
Zucker and Gollust were seen in public at the Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden on November 5, 2021 with Don Lemon (right) and Fareed Zakaria (bottom left). Picture courtesy of fee.org. Tapper alleged the photo forced Zucker to ‘come forward’ and resign ‘not willingly’
Both Gollust and Zucker, left, are said to have coached the 64-year-old former Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, on how to present his daily Covid briefings during the pandemic. The pair are pictured here in 2008
Gollust resigned Tuesday night as CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer months after an internal probe into her alleged ‘inappropriate’ relationship with Zucker.
The 49-year-old left the network following a third-party investigation into ‘issues associated with Chris Cuomo and former Governor Andrew Cuomo,’ a source confirmed to DailyMail.com.
Gollust acknowledged her exit in a bitter email to her staff claiming CNN was trying to undermine her in public: ‘WarnerMedia’s statement tonight is an attempt to retaliate against me and change the media narrative in the wake of their disastrous handling of the last two weeks.’
‘It is deeply disappointing that after spending the past nine years defending and upholding CNN’s highest standards of journalistic integrity, I would be treated this way as I leave.’
‘But I do so with my head held high, knowing I gave my heart and soul to working with the finest journalists in the world.’
‘With much love and gratitude,’ Gollust signed her goodbye message to her colleagues.
Earlier this month, Zucker, 56, announced he was leaving his $6-million-a-year post at CNN for allegedly violating corporate policy by not disclosing the nature of his consensual relationship with Gollust, but he was reportedly given no choice by WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who characterized the change as his decision.
DailyMail.com spotted Zucker making a hasty foray into Midtown Manhattan to pick up some pizza on Friday afternoon. Dressed in a black puffer jacket and jeans, the former media executive appeared to be at pains to go unnoticed as he was driven from his address to the restaurant in a black SUV
Gollust was also spotted on Friday evening at her Upper East Side apartment. She confirmed the couple’s affair in a statement released to the New York Times earlier this month when the news of their relationship and Zucker’s exit broke
Gollust and Zucker’s relationship was reportedly uncovered during an internal probe into allegedly inappropriate relationships after Chris Cuomo was fired from the network in December.
CNN became involved after it was found that anchor Cuomo allegedly used his own influence in the media to help his brother, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo, tackle issues including the sexual assault allegations that lead to end of his reign.
There were also reports that Zucker had allegedly coached Governor Cuomo on how to use his televised briefings to go after former President Donald Trump.
Zucker’s spokesperson said he only spoke to the governor about appearing on CNN and denied that Zucker ever gave Cuomo advice.
‘He never gave Andrew Cuomo advice,’ she said.
TIMELINE OF ZUCKER AND GOLLUST’S OPEN SECRET’ ROMANCE
1986: Zucker hired as an Olympics researcher for NBC
1989: Zucker starts working as producer on Today
1996: Zucker marries his NBC colleague Caryn
2000: Zucker promoted to president of entertainment at NBC after boosting ratings on Today
He meets Gollust at NBC.
2003: Zucker promoted to head of news, cable and entertainment at NBC
2005: Zucker becomes head of NBC Universal, new umbrella brand
2007: Zucker becomes President and CEO of NBC Universal
2010: Zucker leaves NBC, taking a package of between $30m-$40m dollars
2011: Zucker joins Katie Couric as producer on her ABC show
2012: Zucker joins CNN
2018: Zucker and his wife Caryn split
2021: Zucker announces plans to leave the company at the end of the year. He then said he would stay on until TimeWarner’s deal with Discovery was complete
Over the weekend, the investigation, which began in September, concluded that Gollust, Zucker and Chris Cuomo allegedly violated company policies including Standards and Practices, the source told DailyMail.com.
Before their hurried exits, Gollust and Zucker had worked together for 20 years.
The pair claims their relationship turned romantic during the pandemic but others say it far predates COVID, and was common knowledge for as many as 10 years.
Former CNN employees have suggested that Zucker’s relationship with Gollust had been an ‘open secret’ for nearly a decade.
The pair were spotted at a Billy Joel concert last November, where they were called out for defying mask regulations. Don Lemon could also be seen during the concert standing in the row behind.
Sources have said the romantic relationship was so widely known, even the doormen at the Manhattan apartment building where they both lived with their separate families tried to keep Gollust and Zucker’s ex-wife, Caryn, from interacting.
‘Zucker would disappear for hours on end, but Caryn initially had no idea that the woman she was being polite to in the elevator was sleeping with her [then] husband,’ an unnamed source told the New York Post.
They added: ‘Everyone in the building knew about it – even the doormen tried to ensure Caryn wasn’t in the elevator at the same time as Allison.’
After the news broke last week, CNN host Alisyn Camerota defended Zucker and Gollust, saying there was nothing wrong with their relationship because they are both ‘executives.’
Zucker and Gollust lived in the same apartment building on the Upper East Side with their respective families until Jeff sold his in 2020, after he and his ex-wife Caryn Nathanson split.
Their relationship reportedly stretches back to when they both worked at NBC in the late 1990s. Zucker worked at the network from 1986 to 2010, becoming executive producer of the Today show, then head of NBC Entertainment before becoming president and CEO of NBC Universal.
He met Caryn while they were both working at NBC, when he was the executive producer of the Today Show and she was working at Saturday Night Live. The two were married in 1996, and have four kids.
Gollust, meanwhile, started at NBC in 1996 when she was working as a publicist for Today.
She was married to William Hult, and they had two daughters. According to RadarOnline, they broke up 12 months after Jeff and Caryn finalized their divorce.
In 2012, Gollust was picked by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve as his communications director, before Zucker brought her into work at CNN, where he became president in 2013. She eventually became executive vice president of corporate communications at the network, working directly with Zucker.
Zucker was married to Caryn Nathanson in 1996, after they met while working together at NBC. Gollust was married to William Hult, with whom she shares two daughters. Both couples are now divorced, and sources say their relationship was one of the main reasons for the separations
Utilizing her connections from her time in the Governor’s office, Gollust was reportedly ‘instrumental’ in having the Cuomo brothers appear on the network during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.
Together with Zucker, she lobbied Andrew Cuomo to appear on their network, allegedly violating company policy and calling into question their own condemnation of Chris Cuomo’s actions.
The pair contacted the then-governor of New York directly to try and convince him to appear on his brother Chris Cuomo’s show during the pandemic, despite the brotherly interviews breaching journalistic protocols.
When Andrew Cuomo’s team declined, they would make direct appeals.
Sources also say that Chris Cuomo was planning to come forward with a lawsuit that would have detailed how Zucker and Andrew Cuomo had a far deeper relationship than had ever previously been explained.
One allegation suggests the disgraced governor received one-to-one media coaching for his popular pandemic press conferences from Zucker and Gollust.
Gollust and Zucker reportedly advised the former governor on how to handle the COVID crisis and even gave him ‘talking points’ on how to spar with then-President Donald Trump.
CNN also devoted over an hour of uninterrupted airtime to Andrew Cuomo’s daily, televised press briefings throughout the pandemic. The stardom won Andrew Cuomo an Emmy and an army of fans who begged him to run for President.
Chris Cuomo is still fighting for the $18 million he claims he is owed on the remainder of his contract, which Zucker firmly refused after the termination, arguing that he brought the network into disrepute.
DailyMail.com has reached out to CNN.
Jeff Zucker stood by under-fire host Chris Cuomo for MONTHS – but ultimately fired him when NY AG revealed the extent to which he helped his brother. So he took the network boss down
Chris Cuomo refused to leave CNN quietly after being fired for helping quash sex assault allegations against his brother, disgraced ex-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – and he was ‘trying to burn the place down’ when he ousted Jeff Zucker’s secret relationship with a senior network executive.
Cuomo has always maintained that Zucker knew the extent to which he had helped his brother while he was in office, and the network boss ignored calls to fire him for months.
The final straw came after New York AG Letitia James’ office released damning evidence where text messages proved he was more deeply involved than he’d let on. Although he was suspended, he was ultimately fired when a lawyer told CNN he was being investigated for sexually harassing a co-worker years earlier at a different network.
But, according to CNN’s own chief media correspondent Brian Stelter, Cuomo refused to go quietly because his $18 million exit package was on the line.
Cuomo’s legal team ultimately told CNN investigators that it was hypocritical to suggest that the host had a personal conflict of interest while Zucker had failed to disclose his own relationship with comms chief Allison Gollust – even though it was an ‘open secret’ at the company.
Sources told Politco: ‘Cuomo’s legal team asserted that Zucker was hypocritical to suggest Cuomo had a personal conflict of interest when the relationship with Gollust represented a potential conflict as well,’ the outlet reported.
On Wednesday, Stelter said that sources told him that Cuomo was ‘trying to burn the place down’ and had claimed that he had ‘incriminating evidence about Zucker and Gollust.’
‘If that’s the case, this is a domino effect, that begins with Andrew Cuomo going down in the governor’s office, and then Chris Cuomo gets fired from CNN, and then Jeff Zucker losing his job.’
In December, a spokesman for Cuomo accused Zucker of knowing everything about his involvement in trying to help his brother while he navigated a sexual harassment scandal.
‘They were widely known to be extremely close and in regular contact, including about the details of Mr. Cuomo’s support for his brother,’ the spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.
‘There were no secrets about this, as other individuals besides Mr. Cuomo can attest.’
CNN then hit back, saying: ‘He has made a number of accusations that are patently false. This reinforces why he was terminated for violating our standards and practices, as well as his lack of candor.’
And while Cuomo was placed on leave after evidence from James’ office proved just how involved he was in trying to quash his allegations against his brother, he was ultimately fired days later when a lawyer contacted the network with a sexual harassment allegation stemming from his previous job at ABC.
Employment lawyer Debra S. Katz said the allegation against him was made by a former junior colleague at another network, and was unrelated to his brother, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo.
Further details about the allegation were unclear. Cuomo’s spokesman denied the claim, saying: ‘These apparently anonymous allegations are not true.’
CNN’s statement announcing Cuomo’s termination cited only his ‘conduct with his brother’s defense’ in its decision to terminate the anchor.
The popular host’s downfall came when documents revealed how he exchanged dozens of text messages with his brother Andrew’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa.
Cuomo told investigators under oath that they only had ‘irregular contact’.
But the unearthed texts detailed Cuomo’s true role in his brother’s public relations crisis as he told senior members of the governor’s team, ‘we are making mistakes we cant afford.’
In one text, on March 3, he also asked DeRosa to ‘please let me help with prep’.
Cuomo – who earned $6 million annually at CNN, according to Celebrity Net Worth -told investigators that he reached out to a ‘non-journalistic’ source while fishing for information on one of his brother’s accusers.
Though he admitted to researching forthcoming accusers, he vehemently denied to investigators setting out to discredit them.
‘I would never do oppo research on anybody alleging anything like this,’ he told investigators. ‘I’m not in the oppo research business. I don’t tolerate a lot of oppo research on any level.’
When asked to define ‘oppo research’, he said: ‘the idea of trying to find ways to disparage people who come forward with allegations like this is not what I’m about.’
Cuomo’s text exchanges contradict his claims to investigators that he had ‘irregular contact’ with DeRosa. His testimony was subject to the penalty of perjury.
He on March 12 sent her a text, dictating how the governor should respond to calls for his resignation.
‘READ THIS,’ Cuomo said. ‘I will not resign. I cannot resign. I am in a different position and I am working with a different standard than these other politicians I understand why they have to say what they are saying.
‘I understand the political pressure I understand the stakes of political warfare, and that’s what this is… And I understand the conformity that can be forced by cancel culture.’
Discussions centered around Andrew Cuomo stepping down prompted the governor to consider doing so in March, Cuomo said.
‘I told him, ‘If you have done nothing that you believe was wrong, don’t resign,’ Cuomo told investigators. ‘Because resigning is you saying that you did something wrong. Don’t do it.’
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk