Stelter: Chris Cuomo was ‘trying to burn the place down’ and claimed he had ‘incriminating information’ on Zucker

We’ll get to what that incriminating information about Jeff Zucker might be in a moment. First, as Ed pointed out here, there are plenty of voices coming forward today to say that the relationship between Jeff Zucker and Allison Gollust was an “open secret” at CNN. One person who has been weighing in on this is former Fox News and NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly (Allahpundit mentioned one of her tweets here). She’s not being explicit about what she has heard but the implication matches with what others are saying, i.e. the affair was an open secret that has been going on for quite a while.

Why would an earlier start date for the affair matter? Kelly offered an answer to that question.

And this also takes us back to what Radar Online was reporting last month, i.e. that Chris Cuomo’s behavior initially got a pass because Gollust defended him. However, Zucker’s relationship with Gollust became another sort of problem when Zucker did eventually fire Cuomo. CNN refused to pay off the rest of Cuomo’s $18 million contract and Cuomo wasn’t going to let that happen. Here’s Brian Stelter explaining that an angry Cuomo wanted to “burn the place down” on his way out by revealing “incriminating information” about Zucker and Gollust.

When Chris Cuomo was fired, the focus was on how closely he’d worked with his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to shut down his accusers. However, there were other stories about Chris Cuomo circulating around the same time, like this claim of sexual harassment. A few days before Cuomo was fired there were reports about another harassment allegation:

On Wednesday, Debra S. Katz, a prominent employment lawyer, informed CNN of a client with an allegation of sexual misconduct against Chris Cuomo. Ms. Katz said in a statement on Saturday that the allegation against the anchor, which was made by a former junior colleague at another network, was “unrelated to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo matter.”

It was not fully clear what role the allegation played in CNN’s decision to dismiss Mr. Cuomo.

That popped up one day after Cuomo was suspended by CNN and three days before he was fired. Maybe it had more of an impact on Zucker’s decision than was let on publicly. I obviously haven’t seen Cuomo’s contract but it’s not unusual for contracts to have some kind of moral turpitude clause. Pure speculation here but what if that’s what CNN is leaning on to avoid paying off Chris Cuomo’s contract. If so, you can see why an angry Cuomo might decide to weaponize Zucker’s own relationship/affair in his effort to burn down CNN on his way out.

So what is the “incriminating evidence” that Cuomo has? It’s probably not just that Zucker had a secret relationship with a co-worker. That was an open secret and, arguably a personal matter. However, if Zucker’s relationship with Gollust started before he began promoting her up the career ladder to a very senior position at CNN (she’s an executive vice president of PR) that’s another matter. Did she get all those promotions before she started sleeping with Jeff Zucker or did some or all of them come afterwards?

If Chris Cuomo has evidence the relationship was already happening before Zucker promoted her, that would be very damning for Zucker and for Gollust and might explain why Zucker decided to get out now rather than face the music.

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota is already spinning this as a tragic tale of good-guy Jeff Zucker being punished for a private relationship between consenting adults, but as Megyn Kelly pointed out, it may not be that simple.

Finally, Megyn Kelly had the author of the Radar Online story on her show today. Melissa Cronin believes the duration of the relationship is what this resignation is about. She told Kelly, “We’re really only seeing the beginning of what’s going to become an even bigger scandal.”

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