DANIEL VAUGHAN: CNN – the worldwide leader in dysfunction

CNN has gone from the worldwide leader in news to a 24/7 dysfunction machine bent on self-implosion. The dysfunction permeates every level, eradicating any notion that it is a serious organization focused on delivering journalism to consumers. The network went out of its way to protect the likes of Jeffrey Toobin, guilty of pleasuring himself in front of coworkers over Zoom while being forced to fire Christ Cuomo and now CEO Jeffrey Zucker.

Zucker’s decision to resign is painted as one where he had an illicit relationship with a subordinate employee. Other reports suggest far more at play.

Zucker’s relationship came to light because of the ongoing investigations at CNN over Chris Cuomo and his attempt to get severance pay from CNN. Zucker fired Christ Cuomo, alleging that the Cuomo brothers colluded behind the network’s back. That does not appear to be the truth.

Rolling Stone, citing sources at CNN, suggests that Zucker was involved in helping the Cuomo brothers in their stunt. Rolling Stone said:

The source says the investigation suggests Zucker and Gollust were advising the governor at the beginning of the Covid pandemic in ways not dissimilar to what led to Chris Cuomo’s dismissal. As Andrew sparred on a daily basis with then-President Trump over Covid messaging, the couple provided the governor with talking points on how to respond to the president’s criticisms of the New York crisis. They also booked the governor to appear on the network exclusively, which became a ratings boon for CNN, with Chris Cuomo doing the interviewing.

In other words, Zucker was engaged in the very behavior that he fired Chris Cuomo over. Even more ironically, Zucker’s mistress, Allison Gollust, was allegedly helping him aid the Cuomo brothers. Remember, Andrew Cuomo was hiding that his orders led to the deaths of thousands of nursing home patients in the early months of the pandemic. He wrote a book calling his leadership a triumph. Under Zucker’s leadership, CNN did everything in its power to aid both Cuomo brothers.

The Zucker affair was never a secret, and Rolling Stone described it as “Over the past three decades, the Zucker-Gollust relationship was no secret inside the newsrooms of NBC or CNN.” New York Magazine went even further, saying, “Zucker and Gollust’s relationship was one of the biggest open secrets in media. CNN staffers awkwardly navigated the pairing, since every time they dealt with her, they were keenly aware that she was involved with the boss.”

On the outside looking in, an average person might say that CNN has a credibility problem and needs to clean house. There’s no evidence of that happening internally at CNN.

The Wall Street Journal, citing an internal question and answer session for CNN employees, quotes anchor Jake Tapper, going out of his way to defend Zucker. Tapper questioned why CNN would allow allegations from the Cuomo investigation to decide who gets fired. “An outside observer might say, ‘Well, it looks like Chris Cuomo succeeded,'” Mr. Tapper said. “He threatened. Jeff said we don’t negotiate with terrorists. And Chris blew the place up. How do we get past that perception that this is the bad guy winning?”

According to Jake Tapper, Chris Cuomo is the terrorist, and Zucker is the helpless victim. Tapper spent much of the last year moralizing on the evils of Donald Trump, yet he’s got nothing for Zucker. The Journal noted right after those Tapper quotes, “Many of CNN’s highest-profile anchors have been hired or promoted by Mr. Zucker, including Mr. Tapper, “Reliable Sources” anchor Brian Stelter and prime-time anchor Don Lemon.”

Both the Rolling Stone and Wall Street Journal reports suggest more nefarious things come to light. And it could point to office politics, as a New York Times op-ed suggested, “There is some speculation that Mr. Zucker’s office-romance resignation is simply a cover story to allow the company to get rid of him before WarnerMedia’s planned merger with Discovery later this year.”

The sordid affair and how it spilled over into real-world coverage at CNN is telling. For all the grandstanding CNN puts on the airwaves, it believes none of those words behind the scenes. Indeed, the chief grandstanders at CNN are happily defending Zucker behind the scenes.

It’s hard to feel bad for a network that’s fallen as low as CNN. They refused to fire Jefferey Toobin after his actions brought him directly under the #MeToo light. And they’re only getting rid of Cuomo and Zucker under investigation and the hot lights of exposure.

The worldwide leader in dysfunction needs to get cleaned out, from top to bottom, from an outside force. It’s apparent that no one inside has the spine to see the light or call for change. Remember that the next time they moralize about anything.