Whether you were stuck inside due to COVID or you just happened to realize that going out on Dec. 31 is actually the worst, chances are you’ve spent the past few New Year’s Eves in the comfort of your own home, watching the festivities from afar. If that’s the case, you already know the joy of watching CNN’s delightfully unhinged New Year’s broadcast and laughing along as hosts Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper and other network personalities get progressively drunker as the night wears on.
Back in November, however, the cable news network announced it would be pooping on this particular party, restricting anchors and correspondents from both on-camera and off-camera drinking on New Year’s Eve because new CNN CEO Chris Licht reportedly felt as though getting sloshed on live TV hurt the credibility and “respectability” of his reporters. Now, a rival New Year’s Eve host has weighed in: Ryan Seacrest has said it’s “probably a good idea” for CNN to have a dry broadcast this year.
Seacrest, who hosts New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on ABC, told EW he doesn’t “advocate drinking while one is on the air” and made reference to last year when a drunken Andy Cohen referenced “Ryan Seacrest’s group of losers that are performing behind us” on CNN’s broadcast.
“There’s some pretty respectable people, or at least one, right? I think there’s a serious journalist and then a friend of mine who has a lot of fun, but it’s probably a good idea,” Seacrest said. “Although the viewers probably wish they would drink more. But I think they had something to say about my show at one point, which was I’m sure from the alcohol because I don’t think they would say what they said about our performers if they weren’t drinking.”
Seacrest and Licht are, of course, being no fun at all. The CNN broadcast — helmed by Cohen and Cooper but also featuring the famous misadventures of a drunken Don Lemon — has carved out a reputation for itself in recent years as the only entertaining New Year’s Eve programming. Who wants to watch a bunch of mediocre bands lip-sync in Times Square when they can watch their favorite reporter get sauced and announce to millions of viewers that they’re “a bad person to date”? The boozy highlights from CNN’s broadcast go viral every year; cutting out alcohol — the one thing that makes their coverage of the night actually entertaining and sets them apart from competitors — can’t be good for ratings.
And does tossing a few back on air really hurt its hosts’ credibility, or does it make them more relatable? In an era where “the mainstream media” is depicted as a monolith and demonized by large swaths of society, is reminding viewers that these reporters are, in fact, human really so bad? Journalists across the country have endured a hellacious few years, thanks to a pandemic, unprecedented political turmoil, war and climate disaster. They have to be on the front lines of some of the darkest horrors life has to offer 364 days a year; can’t they have this one night to unwind and get a little goofy?
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