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Jeff Zucker's NBC and CNN tenures have one thing in common: "A brazen disregard for workplace ethics seemed to envelop his newsrooms"

  • Zucker enabled Matt Lauer and Donald Trump at NBC, then did the same with Chris Cuomo and his romantic partner Allison Gollust at CNN, says Rolling Stone's Tatiana Siegel. "At NBC, Zucker put Trump in front of millions of American eyeballs for 14 seasons, positioning him as a lovably irascible titan of business and effectively turning The Apprentice into a shadow campaign for the future leader of the free world," says Siegel. "It was a union spawned in 2003, when Trump was a semifailed businessman looking for an image overhaul, and Zucker, then president of NBC Entertainment, was apparently eager to acquiesce. To cross-promote that show, he installed Trump as a regular guest on Today, where he was exalted like a Nobel laureate before an audience of America’s stay-at-home moms. And, of course, Zucker presided over Matt Lauer’s heyday, when the Today anchor preyed on vulnerable young staffers, seemingly with no fear. By the time he got to CNN, Zucker was both kingmaker and king. He brought in on-air talent like Clarissa Ward and, more recently, Chris Wallace; launched landmark docuseries like Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; and turned a moribund digital news operation into a scoop machine. He also made a $6-million-a-year star of his close friend Chris Cuomo, who has since been accused of sexual misconduct in addition to journalistic missteps. (Cuomo denies the sexual-assault and harassment allegations, and maintains that any ethical transgressions were sanctioned by Zucker and Gollust.) Zucker bucked conflict-of-interest protocol to have Chris interview his brother, shamelessly capitalizing on Andrew’s rising national profile during the pandemic. All the while, sources say, Zucker was conducting his affair with his subordinate, Gollust, in plain sight, bringing her from one network to the other, promoting her — and approving her compensation — at every stage of his ascension. She was a key player in Cuomogate, providing talking points to the governor — for whom she worked briefly between stints with Zucker — and relaying his preferred topics to CNN producers, including on that day in March 2020. It was all, sources say, part of a pattern of behavior Zucker had been nurturing for years."

    TOPICS: Jeff Zucker, CNN, Allison Gollust, Chris Cuomo, Matt Lauer, Cable News, NBC News