Cuomo goes national, hiring NBC exec Allison Gollust to replace a local-press veteran
Governor Andrew Cuomo has hired as his new communications director the former top spokesperson at NBC Universal, Allison Gollust.
In a statement released by Cuomo's office, Gollust said, "Communication in this day and age moves at a lightning pace and serves a critical role in informing the public. I look forward to working with the administration to continue spreading the Governor’s message of a new New York throughout the state."
Helping Cuomo spread his message in this "lightning pace" of today's media won't be easy. Cuomo, an unusually controlling politician when it comes to the media, has at times expressed discomfort with the sped-up news cycle, which he has publicly complained about on a number of occasions.
Gollust may be a more out-front presence than her predecessor, particularly once Cuomo lifts his self-imposed virtual ban on non-New York media in the run-up to 2016. She is replacing Richard Bamberger, a personal-publicity-shy former television producer who is departing for a job in the private sector. Bamberger, who worked for years in local TV before becoming a producer at "Inside Edition," joined Cuomo for the second half of his term in the attorney general's office and then transitioned into the governor's administration with ease.
Gollust will work with Josh Vlasto, an argumentative press aide who has responded to some stories critical of Cuomo by accusing the authors of professional incompetence and outright fabrication. The governor has recently sought to cultivate friendlier relations with the Albany press.
Before joining Cuomo's team, Gollust worked at NBC (as a reporter, producer and later network spokesperson), which underwent its own transitions.
According to her bio, Gollust was part of the transition teams that helped install David Gregory at "Meet the Press" following the death of Tim Russert (a Buffalo native who worked for Cuomo's father); replacing Katie Couric at "Today" with Meredith Vieira in 2006; and getting Brian Williams into Tom Brokaw's anchor chair at "NBC Nightly News" in 2004.
She rose to the top job at NBC in July of 2009, but by November 2010, she was announcing her departure from the network at around the time her boss, Jeff Zucker, was departing as well.
Among the pictures of her on Patrick McMullan's web site is one with the governor's girlfriend, Sandra Lee, at Glamour's 2011 Women of the Year awards dinner.