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CNN President Resigns Amid Affair Allegations

It’s Thursday, February 3rd, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) CNN President Resigns Amid Affair Allegations

The Topline: CNN President Jeff Zucker abruptly resigned on Wednesday, citing his failure to disclose a romantic relationship with an employee. 

(Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images)

Resignation

On Wednesday, Zucker issued a company-wide memo saying he had a relationship with his “closest colleague” and “was required to disclose it when it began but didn’t.” He added, “I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today.”

According to Zucker, the details of the relationship came to light during an internal investigation into former CNN host Chris Cuomo who was fired last month. His resignation letter didn’t mention the colleague by name, but CNN said the woman was Allison Gollust, the network’s Chief Marketing Officer and former communications director for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. She and Zucker had worked together for over 20 years at NBC and CNN. 

According to a statement from Gollust, she and Zucker had been “close friends and professional partners,” but their relationship “changed during COVID.” 

Controversy 

Many people who have worked with the pair over the last decade say the affair began not during COVID, but years ago while the two were married to other people. 

Former CNN host Soledad O’brien tweeted the affair was “an open secret” at the network, and the relationship dates back years. Roland Martin, a former CNN political analyst, also called the affair “an open secret” and said the relationship dated back to before either were at CNN. 

The news also cast new light on a book published last year by Katie Couric in which she claims Zucker repeatedly pressured her to let Gollust take over as communications head for the Today show. Couric implied it was because the two were having an affair and even described how Gollust moved her husband and children into the same apartment building as Zucker, right above where he and his then wife were living.   

CNN’s Brian Stelter claimed employees there were “stunned” by the news, but there were conflicting reports throughout the day saying the real shock among employees was not necessarily that Zucker was leaving, but why he was leaving. 

CNN has struggled all year with poor ratings and numerous scandals, and there was already speculation Zucker might be forced out for professional reasons. 

Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

2) Whoopi Goldberg Suspended From “The View”

The Topline: Whoopi Goldberg, a co-host of ABC’s “The View,” was suspended for two weeks after claiming the Holocaust was not about race.

Quote Of The Day:  “If you’re going to do this, then let’s be truthful about it, because the Holocaust isn’t about race. No. It’s not about race… It’s about man’s inhumanity to man…but these are two white groups of people.”

– Whoopi Goldberg on Monday

Whoopi Goldberg

Goldberg issued an apology Monday evening, but not before she had already taped an appearance on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” in which she seemed flippant about the comments, possibly making the issue worse.

During the interview, she said, “I feel, being black, when we talk about race it’s a very different thing to me…I thought it was a salient discussion because as a black person I think of race as being something that I can see. So I see you and I know what race you are.”

Later, ABC issued a statement saying her comments were “wrong and hurtful” and they’ve asked her to take time to “reflect and learn about the impact of her comments.”

Past Situations

Scenarios like this have often ended in the host or anchor making an agreement to leave the show.

For example, Sharon Osbourne defended Piers Morgan over charges that he was a racist when he criticized Meghan Markle, leading CBS to suspend and later part ways with her. Likewise, NBC fired Megyn Kelly for comments about blackface sometimes being acceptable in the context of children’s Halloween costumes.

Fiordaliso via Getty Images

3) New Study Shows Lockdowns Had Minimal Impact On Deaths

The Topline: A new study from Johns Hopkins University claims lockdown measures had little or no effect on COVID-19 mortality. 

Quote Of The Day: “…if there’s one mistake we’ve made the entire pandemic, it’s that we’ve used the same blanket policy on every age group in the population, regardless of their comorbidity and in every part of the country.”

– Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins

The Study

The study released this week by Johns Hopkins seemed to indicate that lockdowns had little or no effect on COVID mortality. 

Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins said researchers conducted a meta analysis of existing studies and created a mathematical model that analyzed the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. They found that all these policies resulted in a mortality reduction of two tenths of 1%. However, they did not study that number compared to the number of deaths from potential side effects of the lockdowns, including substance abuse, suicide, deferred medical care, and other collateral damage from poverty and hopelessness.

In examining the U.S. and Europe, the researchers concluded that stay-at-home orders may have made a small difference in the beginning, but sustained stay-at-home orders combined with lockdowns had a harsh impact on society. 

While extreme measures were effective, Dr. Makary said they should have been targeted chronologically, geographically, and towards those who were at a higher risk from the virus. 

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Washington Commanders

After 92 years, the Washington Redskins announced their new team name on Wednesday – the Washington Commanders. The team had faced pressure to change the name due to complaints of racism. However, a 2019 Washington Post poll found that those with native American heritage were most likely to report being “proud” of the team’s former name, followed by “indifferent.”  

Troops Deployed

3,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to Ukraine as a “deterrent and defensive posture on NATO’s eastern flank.” The Pentagon announced Wednesday that 1,000 American troops will be repositioned from Germany to Romania, while another 2,000 are set to be deployed to Europe from the U.S. in the coming days. 

Winter Storm

A winter storm began to affect close to 100 million people on Wednesday as a massive weather event traveled through much of the country. Thousands of flights are expected to be impacted.

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