Brooke Baldwin is telling all about her exit from CNN. Three years after hosting her final episode of CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin, the former anchor opened up about tensions with her executive producer and CNN’s former president Jeff Zucker, which she said led to her departure from the network. 

In a piece for Vanity Fair published on Tuesday, April 23, Brooke, 44, revealed that her troubles started when she relocated from Atlanta to New York in 2014. Since her producing team stayed behind, they began a long-distance working relationship. “My producer made me feel as though I couldn’t do heavy-hitting interviews without him,” the journalist explained. “Or, maybe, I allowed him to make it feel like I couldn’t do heavy-hitting interviews without him. The word gaslighting has become so cliché, but that’s what it felt like. Manipulation. Bullying.”

Brooke recalled essentially being ghosted by her producer at times, claiming that he would “go dark” on her if she accidentally missed one of his emails. She alleged that he would refuse to speak in her earpiece and sometimes only communicated by writing notes on the teleprompter, even in urgent situations. 

At the time, Brooke said she never told anyone what was going on as she continued to maintain her “good girl” image. However, after Donald Trump was elected as president, she “got curious about the legions of women who, as a direct result of that election, finally decided to speak up.”

After “[finding her] voice,” Brooke finally told Jeff, 59, that she no longer wanted to work with her producer in November 2019. “I didn’t want him punished – just moved with another anchor to start anew,” Brooke clarified. “A male colleague had made a similar request with success. My request? Denied.”

The Atlanta native described this moment as the “beginning of the end” for her. She recounted being called into Jeff’s office with her agent just weeks later. “Had I inadvertently kicked a hornet’s nest?” she wondered. “All because I had gone over my producer’s head to the big boss. It didn’t make sense. I wasn’t accusing this guy of any kind of misconduct. Just as I’d told Jeff, our working relationship had run out of track.”

During the conversation, Jeff told Brooke that he would not be removing her producer from her show. She remembered the network’s president threatening, “I could give your show to someone in Washington tomorrow. [Long pause]. But I won’t because I believe you’re the best broadcaster on this network.”

Leading up to Election Day 2020, Brooke was pulled off the air for two months “with very little explanation,” she said. At the time, she was flooded with questions from viewers about why she was taking time off. “Not my choice,” she replied to one Instagram commenter. 

“So I got slapped again,” Brooke wrote in her Vanity Fair piece. “When I got my show back, Jeff cut it in half. This time I kept my mouth shut. ‘Be grateful,’ Jeff had once told me over lunch a year or two before, while we were in contract negotiations.”

In January 2021, Brooke learned that she was being pushed out of the network via a phone call from her agent. “Jeff wanted me out,” she revealed. “No explanation. Just out. From that moment on, after I’d spent 13 years at CNN, Jeff never spoke to me again. Neither did my former executive producer, who ended up getting moved to another show for COVID-protocol reasons and then eventually promoted.”

After intense negotiations, Brooke was able to announce her own exit from CNN in February 2021. Her final show was that April. “Through my final days at CNN, I was so allergic to the idea of [Jeff] that instead of risking running into him on the way to the bathroom, I contemplated peeing in a Gatorade bottle in my office,” she admitted.

There was no goodbye party for the CNN veteran on her last day. “Life is unfair. People are s–tty. Bosses are bullies,” she wrote. “This is not news.”

Brooke concluded her piece by acknowledging that, “In all my silence, in all my enabling, the person who betrayed me the most was me. I wanted to obey. I wanted to please. I wanted to be the good girl. I was afraid they’d let me go – joke’s on me.”  

She also acknowledged that she reached out to both Jeff and her former producer before publishing the piece. “Jeff’s publicist responded by saying ‘he wishes you all the best,’”’ Brooke added. “My old producer never responded.” 

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