CNN Bans Reporters From Partaking In Longstanding NYE Tradition
CNN New Year's Eve will be far different this year, as Andy Cohen reveals the network wants no more drinking on camera.
As 2022 draws to a close so will one of CNN’s long-time New Year’s Eve traditions. The Warner Bros. Discovery-backed outlet has banned on-air staff from drinking when the ball drops on December 31st. New CEO Chris Licht made the announcement during a town hall meeting at the network’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters. He said drinking on camera, coupled with the zany antics that follow, damaged the news company’s credibility with viewers.
The move comes after CNN personalities like Don Lemon became visibly drunk during the channel’s New Year’s Eve festivities. And that’s when things get a little out of control, especially after 12:30 am, Variety reports. One year, he got his ear pierced live on air. While on a separate occasion an inebriated Lemon declared himself to be a “grown-a–man” who was “able to share my point of view on television and it freaks people out and you know what. “You can kiss my behind, I do not care. I don’t care.”
However, Don Lemon insists that no matter how crazy things get, he is in complete control of himself on camera. In an interview with Variety in 2018, he said, “The idea is to have fun. What can I do that’s interesting and engaging for the audience?” He added that when he does do something seemingly outrageous, like getting a tattoo, he is aware of the decision that’s being made.
Although Lemon, whose antics have since earned him viral status on social media, will be required to dial it down, the same rules don’t apply to Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. Interestingly, CNN’s new drinking policy probably won’t impact the pair’s prime-time New Year’s Eve special as they will still be allowed to drink behind the scenes. Last year, the hosts headlined the broadcast before Lemon, Alisyn Camerota and Dulcé Sloan took over the later coverage.
A spokesperson for CNN also told The Los Angeles Times that Cohen would still ring in the New Year in Times Square after making nasty comments about New Year’s Rockin’ Eve hosted by Ryan Seacrest in 2021. At the time, his mini rant caused some to speculate that Cohen had way too much to drink. Addressing the incident a few days later, the CNN news anchor said he regrets slamming the ABC broadcast. “I really like Ryan and he’s a great guy. I was just stupid and drunk.”
Ryan Seacrest’s ABC program usually draws a larger audience than CNN’s New Year’s Eve coverage. But the news channel’s coverage has become a part of the holiday. Cooper has held his duties longer than the ABC host and has been a fixture of the broadcast since 2002. He also sees the role as a way to embrace the occasion and counteract his own ambivalence about the night. “It’s often too difficult and stressful to go out, the anchor told Variety in 2020.
“There’s something mildly depressing about it. It often ends badly for a lot of people,” Cooper added. But he believes the CNN Times Square New Year’s Eve broadcast allows viewers to celebrate without risking a bad night. “It’s two people standing out in the cold and rain and watching things happen. Funny things happen, and plenty of things happen, and that’s it,” he told the publication. “It’s a fun night out, and that’s really all you can seek for New Year’s Eve.”