CNN’s parent company has announced that it has concluded its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the firing and ouster of CNN chief Jeff Zucker . It has left unanswered questions for a news organisation.
WarnerMedia announced Wednesday that the internal report, which was prepared by Cravath, Swaine & Moore and was commissioned in September, would not be published.
Late Tuesday, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar informed CNN employees that the report was complete over the weekend. He informed CNN employees late Tuesday that Allison Gollust (the marketing executive whose affair with Zucker led him to his downfall) would be also leaving the company.
Kilar stated that the probe was based on interviews of more than 40 people, and a review over 100,000 emails and texts, and “found violations by company policies, including CNN news standards and practices by Jeff Zucker, Allison Gollust, and Chris Cuomo.”
Cuomo was a former CNN prime time host. Zucker fired him in December after documents revealed that he had assisted his brother, the ex-Gov of New York. Andrew Cuomo strategizes about how to defend himself against sexual misconduct charges. Zucker had to resign earlier in the month after he violated company policy by not disclosing that he was romantically involved with Gollust.
Kilar stated in his memo, “This news is troubling and disappointing, frankly, it’s painful to read.”
However, the statement didn’t specify the alleged violations to news standards. Kilar’s memo was not clear. Did each person named violate company policies or news standards? WarnerMedia spokeswoman did not offer any clarification Wednesday.
According to a person familiar with the separation agreement, Zucker cannot make any further statements regarding his departure from CNN. The person spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak about it.
Risa Heller spoke on behalf of Zucker and said that Jeff resigned because of an undisclosed personal relation.
Steve Goldberg, Cuomo’s spokesman, stated that it was clear that this was not about an undisclosed relationship. Mr. Cuomo stated that Ms. Gollust and Mr. Zucker were both fully aware of his actions to help his brother. It remains to be seen when WarnerMedia will release the results from its investigation and explain why it terminated Mr. Cuomo.
Heller stated that Zucker wasn’t aware of how Cuomo was helping him brother and “that is why Chris was fired.”
Different approaches have been taken by news organizations to investigating the journalistic actions. In 2005, CBS News published a detailed public report that an independent panel produced on CBS News’ discredit story about former President George W. Bush and his National Guard service. NBC News kept secret its internal findings about the inaccurate statements made by Brian Williams about stories he covered a decade later.
The New York Times published details in a story on Wednesday about a letter that Debra Katz sent to CNN. Debra Katz is an attorney who represented victims of sexual harassment. She accused Cuomo, who was working at ABC News before joining CNN, of misconduct with a young girl.
According to the Times, the letter stated that Cuomo had reached out to the woman years ago about a CNN story about the company she worked for. The newspaper stated that CNN covered the story even though the woman tried to avoid Cuomo.
Katz claimed that Cuomo tried to discourage the woman from speaking out about the alleged misconduct. The Times reported Katz’s statement.
Katz declined to comment on Wednesday when The Associated Press reached him.
Cuomo’s representatives strongly denied all allegations of sexual misconduct. They claimed that Cuomo was mischaracterizing his motivations for later reaching out to the woman and that they were journalistic in nature.
Goldberg stated that he was not asked about the allegations before he was terminated and wasn’t given the opportunity to respond.