Independent journalist Megyn Kelly tore into CNN’s afternoon host Alisyn Camerota on Wednesday, demanding she “stop defending” network boss Jeff Zucker, who announced he is stepping down this week.
The former Fox News standout suggested that there could be more to Zucker’s surprise resignation on Wednesday than just his admission that he had an “inappropriate” relationship with a network colleague.
Later in the day, Camerota talked about Zucker’s announcement, which he attributed to his failure to disclose the relationship, with co-anchor Victor Blackwell and media analyst Brian Stelter.
“I do just want to say something personal for a moment, if I may,” she began. “I feel it deeply, personally, but also I think I speak for all of us and our colleagues — this is an incredible loss. It’s an incredible loss.
“Jeff is a remarkable person and an incredible leader,” Camerota declared, despite the fact that under his tutelage, the network’s ratings have been in decline, overall, for years.
“He has this uncanny ability to make — I think — every one of us feel special and valuable in our own way, even though he is managing an international news organization of thousands of people,” Camerota continued.
“I just know that he had this unique ability to make us feel special. And I don’t think that comes around all the time, and again, I think it’s an incredible loss,” she added.
She noted further that to her mind, the manner in which Zucker stepped down felt “wrong,” adding: “These are two consenting adults who are both executives — that they can’t have a private relationship feels wrong on some level.”
Stelter appeared to push back a bit, claiming that his sources seemed to think that Zucker was not given any choice, evidenced by his offer to stay on and help with the transition to new leadership and having been told that wasn’t going to happen.
In responding to Camerota’s remarks, Kelly noted that the colleague Zucker admitted having a relationship with — Allison Gollust, who once was the communications director for then-New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo — had followed Zucker through the ranks.
“Tell it to the women who got passed over for a promotion so the boss’s lover could have the spot. Are there any? Have you checked? Then stop defending this,” Kelly said.
On Wednesday, Jason Kilar, CEO of Warner Media — which owns CNN — sent out a memo to all CNN staffers announcing that the network would be led by three co-heads for the time being: Michael Bass, Amy Entelis, and Ken Jautz.
In his own memo to staff, Zucker, in announcing his resignation, said it involved the investigation into former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
“As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years,” he said.
“I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong.