Ex-CNN chief Jeff Zucker was ousted to bolster AT&T’s case against Chris Cuomo: sources

When former CNN chief Jeff Zucker stonewalled Chris Cuomo and refused to pay out the roughly $18 million that was on the remainder of his contract, Cuomo’s lawyers decided to go over his head: They went to AT&T, CNN’s owner, sources familiar with the matter told The Post.

Cuomo’s lawyers argued AT&T was involved in selective enforcement, according to the sources. Zucker — who violated company policy by dating a colleague without disclosing it — was able to hold onto his cushy job, but Cuomo had gotten the boot for helping his brother, now-former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, navigate sexual harassment claims.

Given those circumstances, Cuomo’s lawyers argued, AT&T should pay Cuomo the full $18 million he was demanding.

But instead of paying up, AT&T forced Zucker to resign after Cuomo squealed on him to the telecom giant, sources told The Post.

From a financial standpoint, it appears Cuomo hasn’t gotten the windfall he was seeking. Sources familiar with the matter say AT&T hasn’t coughed up the $18 million. But from another standpoint, he might have achieved some vindication.

Chris Cuomo argued he was entitled to the roughly $18 million that was on the remainder of his contract after he was fired from CNN.
Getty Images for Turner
Outside view of an AT&T store.
AT&T forced Zucker to resign over his secret relationship rather than paying Cuomo the $18 million.
AFP via Getty Images

“It shows clearly CNN is a mess — and also misery loves company,” one source mused.

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AT&T and CNN didn’t return calls for comment. An attorney for Cuomo, Bryan Freedman, also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

After AT&T became formally aware of the situation with Zucker, it likely had to do something, sources said.

CNN President Jeff Zucker speaks during the Asahi Shimbun interview.
Zucker stepped down from CNN Wednesday after nine years at the network.
The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

“How do you fire a journalist who violates a policy while the CEO gets away with violating a policy?” said one source familiar with the matter.

The PR fallout for AT&T – a company with a market capitalization of $175 billion – would have been far worse than any possible settlement that could still come with Cuomo, one source noted.

Cuomo still wants to reach a settlement with CNN, sources said.

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