CNN and its parent company Warner Bros. Discovery are currently facing a significant development following the recent dismissal of CEO Chris Licht.
The company is now preparing for arbitration with former host Chris Cuomo, who has filed a $125 million claim asserting wrongful termination in 2021. As part of the proceedings in New York, previously undisclosed text messages have emerged, revealing attempts by CNN’s parent company, then known as WarnerMedia, to leverage the news network’s close relationship with former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is Chris Cuomo’s brother, to further Warner’s commercial interests.
The text messages in question date back to September 22, 2020 and involve Governor Cuomo and Allison Gollust, who was CNN’s chief marketing officer at the time. Gollust had previously worked in the governor’s office before joining CNN, and she maintained regular contact with him, assisting in securing appearances on CNN shows and resolving scheduling conflicts with other networks.
While Gollust primarily focused on supporting CNN’s programming efforts, on that particular day, she crossed into the realm of advocating for the business interests of WarnerMedia, CNN’s parent company.
In a text message to the governor, Gollust requested his intervention in a conversation with Ann Sarnoff, WarnerMedia’s studio chief. The exact message, shared with Semafor by an individual with direct knowledge of the exchange, stated, “She’s bummed you don’t open theaters in NY, but perhaps you can hear her out.”
The following day, Cuomo honored Gollust’s request and contacted Sarnoff, leading to a discussion in which Sarnoff reportedly urged the governor to relax restrictions on movie theaters, according to a source familiar with the exchange. Gollust and WarnerMedia declined to provide comments on the matter, while Sarnoff and Chris Cuomo did not respond to requests for comment.
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s decision to terminate Chris Licht has added another layer of complexity to the ongoing arbitration process. The challenge arises from the fact that CNN and its parent company have terminated several individuals who are now potentially crucial witnesses in the case.
According to two sources familiar with the matter, Jeff Zucker and Allison Gollust are preparing to provide testimony regarding the circumstances surrounding Chris Cuomo’s departure, as reported by Semafor.
Another significant witness, former CNN head of strategic communications Matt Dornic, had already begun preparations for the arbitration hearings prior to his termination on Wednesday, along with his superior Chris Licht.
A person with knowledge of the situation revealed that former Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter has been issued a subpoena and may also be called upon as a witness. It remains uncertain whether Stelter will be required to answer questions.
Maddy Troy serves as a writer and editor for Barrett News Media, with a specific focus on media business, advertising, and podcasting. You can find her on Twitter @Troy_Maddy.
Tomi Lahren: Washington Post, Barstool Story Shows Journalism is Dead
Lahren believes that Heil wrote the story as a hit piece and noted that journalism is dead because of stories like these.
OutKick’s Tomi Lahren weighed in on Washington Post reporter Emily Heil’s report regarding the news outlet’s piece on Barstool Sport’s Dave Portnoy’s One Bite Pizza Festival that occurs on Sept. 23 at Maimonides Park in Brooklyn, NY.
The Post wrote a detailed story about Portnoy’s impact on some of these Pizzierias through his reviews. Furthermore, businesses participating in the festival were accused of supporting a man with a history of sexual misconduct and offensive language that he defended as jokes.
Nonetheless, before the piece ran, Portnoy got ahead of the story, to which Lahren applauded his actions. Additionally, Lahren believes that Heil wrote the story as a hit piece and noted that journalism is dead because of stories like these.
“This isn’t your grandfather’s Woodward and Bernstein era Washington Post,” Lahren wrote for OutKick. “These are activists with MacBooks and it couldn’t be more obvious. But Dave was smart and savvy enough to not only play their game but body them in the process.
“This Emily gal deserves the inevitable and lasting internet and social media embarrassment that will forever be associated with her byline. Play stupid games and win stupid prizes. Those are my Final Thoughts.”
Geraldo Rivera: Rupert Murdoch Was ‘Sincerely Motivated’ to Create Conservative News
“I see him as a good boss. A vibrant, charismatic guy, still full of verb and energy at 92 years old.”
Geraldo Rivera departed Fox News under less-than-ideal circumstances earlier this year. That doesn’t mean he can’t share admiration for departing Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch.
During an appearance on CNN Tonight with Laura Coates after Murdoch announced he would exit his long-held role with the company, Rivera had good things to say about the media titan.
“He has always been nice to me, kind to me, (and) generous. When they cut my salary in half — when they had the big cutback before the pandemic — I went up and I said, ‘Hey boss, this is not right. I went in to combat for you and this and that,’ and he called downstairs and he said, ‘Okay, restore part of that cut.’ So, I see him as a good boss,” Rivera said. “A vibrant, charismatic guy, still full of verb and energy at 92 years old.”
Rivera went on to defend Murdoch from accusations that the salacious and partisan news coverage provided by his outlets was a ploy to advance conservative causes.
“I think it does a disservice to think that it was all sleazy kind of opportunism because I don’t believe that he believed that. I believe that he was sincerely motivated,” said Geraldo Rivera. “He could have, for example, when Fox News was being created, gone the way of other Fox syndicated programs like A Current Affair and gone tabloid and celebrities and all that TMZ kind of stuff.
“Instead, he went to serve a conservative audience, and while I disagree with almost everything in all of their positions — the majority of talent at Fox News — I appreciate the fact that half the people believe — for example — that abortion is a moral wrong, or that gun rights are absolute, or that immigration is bad, or that the climate is not changing. They’re very skeptical about that. Those are people who deserve to have their media.”
Newsmax CEO: We Have Benefited From Contributions of Rupert Murdoch
“His contributions to the news industry across several continents have been enormous, helping to ensure a balanced and truly free media.”
Yesterday’s surprise announcement that Fox Corp. and News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch would exit his role with the companies continues to create shockwaves throughout the industry. The news made Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy become retrospective on what Murdoch has meant to the media landscape.
“Over many decades no other individual has had such a tremendous impact on the media landscape as Rupert Murdoch. His contributions to the news industry across several continents have been enormous, helping to ensure a balanced and truly free media,” Ruddy said.
“Newsmax has benefited from his contributions and we will continue his efforts to promote a free press, a cornerstone to a free society.”
Ruddy launched Newsmax in 1998, positioning the network as a competitor to Fox News. The network has seen expansive growth in recent months, coinciding with the decision by Fox News to remove popular primetime host Tucker Carlson from its lineup.
While Murdoch announced his departure, he remained adamant that he would stay involved in both companies.
“I can guarantee you that I will be involved every day in the contest of ideas. Our companies are communities, and I will be an active member of our community,” Murdoch wrote in his memo to employees announcing his departure.