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If Jeff Zucker had taken a leaf out of the Brian Stelter playbook, he may still be at CNN

In June 2011, Brian Stelter was secretly dating CNBC anchor Nicole Lapin
Brian Stelter dated CNBC anchor Nicole Lapin (R) in 2011, long before Jeff Zucker's affair with Allison Gollust (CNN, Instagram)
Brian Stelter dated CNBC anchor Nicole Lapin (R) in 2011, long before Jeff Zucker's affair with Allison Gollust (CNN, Instagram)

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker recently stepped down from his position and resigned from the global news network, on account of an undisclosed romantic relationship with colleague and Chief Marketing Officer Allison Gollust. In a memo submitted to the team, the 56-year-old admitted that he was "wrong" in not disclosing his relationship to the management, as workplace protocols mandate. The romance came to light during an internal investigation into Chris Cuomo, the star CNN anchor who was fired last year.

The news of Jeff Zucker's affair and decision to resign was publicly announced by CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter. Following the public announcement, Stelter landed in a soup as many CNN staffers criticized him for not disclosing Zucker's affair sooner. Stelter is now in the life of fire at the beleaguered network, which is facing a massive fallout from Chris Cuomo's firing. However, in his personal life, Stelter had once faced a Zucker situation long back and effectively saved himself a career-ruining scandal. 


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The incident dates back to 2011 when Brian Stelter was a noted correspondent at New York Times. At that time, he was secretly dating CNBC anchor Nicole Lapin, famous for her morning show Worldwide Exchange. In June 2011, the duo went public with their relationship at the premiere of Times Media documentary Page One. 

At a time predating the social media boom, Lapin disclosed her relationship with Stelter via a smoochy photo on her Instagram and Tumblr accounts. The pair soon emerged as media's top 'power couple', often papped for their sweet romance. A June 2011 report by Insider stated, "We hear Lapin and Stelter have been dating for a while and now and have been quiet about it. The gossip is that Stelter had to clear the relationship with his editors before he was allowed to go public with it." 

However, Stelter clarified later, "The gossip is wrong. I informed my editor (not editors) immediately, on May 31, and I suggested that I refrain from covering CNBC in a significant way in the future. If there's a passing reference to the network in a blog post or ratings story, I'm not going to get too worked up. We'll steer clear of anything beyond that."

The hotshot NYT journalist, who joined CNN much later, had delineated clear distinctions between his professional and personal life back then. Both Stelter and Lapin took measures to ensure their professional lives do not come in the way of their relationship and vice versa, thereby prompting many to hail them as the ideal couple. 

Though the Lapin-Stelter romance did not see its happily-ever-after, the former couple is being discussed in the present context in reference to Jeff Zucker-Allison Gollust relationship. Contrary to Brian Stelter, Zucker kept his affair under the wraps for years despite having known Gollust personally for more than two decades. Following his resignation, many are raising the question of whether Gollust curried professional favors from Zucker to reach her present position at CNN. Word in the media circle is that Zucker could have saved his job and reputation simply by taking a note from Brian Stelter's playbook. 

Meanwhile, Stelter is presently married with kids to Jamie Shupak Stelter, while Nicole Lapin is engaged to Joe Sanberg. On the Zucker-Gollust front, the latest update on their relationship status or professional future remains uncertain.