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The Self-Inflicted Debasing of Anderson Cooper (and His Credibility)
January 2, 2013  | By Ed Bark  | 8 comments

Conduct unbecoming of a news anchor has become virtually impossible to prove in the court of public opinion.

Lines have blurred to the point of obliteration at both the national and local level.

Time to insert a "But still." Because CNN's Anderson Cooper, the face of his network whenever a big story breaks, really has no business calling himself a serious journalist anymore.

For the sixth time on New Year's Eve, Cooper willingly shared a live platform in Times Square with comedian Kathy Griffin, whose mouth long has been a gaping exit wound. For starters, an international audience watched her tell him, "I'm gonna tickle your sack." This came after Cooper noted that some viewers were playing a drinking game in honor of "every time I giggle nervously."

He giggled continuously. And unfortunately, Cooper sounds a lot like Larry King when he does so. In other words, it's a pretty creepy giggle.

Griffin later ventured where no co-host has gone before after CNN reporter Gary Tuchman's live dispatch from Eastport, Maine. He told viewers about a longstanding New Year's Eve tradition in which denizens kiss a fake jumbo sardine after it's lowered from the top of a building as part of the countdown to midnight.

During the split-screen report, Griffin stooped to kiss Cooper's crotch area.

"Did you drop something?" he wondered.

"No," she said. "I was kissing your sardine." Furthermore, "I could do this all night long."

One could argue — but not convincingly — that Cooper has no control over what Griffin says or does. But he keeps putting himself in this position year after year with seemingly no regard as to how viewers might perceive him the next time he affixes a sober countenance to report from scenes of national tragedies or disasters.

Cooper's New Year's Eve dalliances with Griffin are akin to inviting Andrew Dice Clay to entertain at your seven-year-old's birthday party. And then wondering why he taught the kids how to drop f-bombs.

Even worse, Cooper invited Griffin back the next night for a live Jan. 1 segment on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. That 's where the above "Anderson's and Kathy's Wild New Year's Eve" tagline came from. It also happened to be the night of the House's rather important "fiscal cliff" vote, in which Hurricane Sandy relief was left on the table. So leave it to Griffin to further soil the CNN "brand" with, "Now let me ask you this. 'Cause you're a newsman. Or you used to be."

Cooper of course giggled before Griffin asked him what impact the fiscal cliff vote would have on her Maserati.

Cooper's syndicated, oft-silly daytime talk show, Anderson Live, should have been enough of a carnival midway for him. It's being canceled after this season, though. One shouldn't forget that he's also the guy who hosted two cycles of the ABC "reality-competiton" series The Mole just before CNN brought him aboard in 2001. He's been quoted as saying, "I think the notion of a traditional anchor is fading away. The all-knowing, all-seeing person who speaks from on high."

Maybe so. And maybe all well and good to a point. But you still have to take the high ground when it comes to your image as a serious anchor-reporter. And there's simply no credible network anchor who would even think of subjecting himself to Kathy Griffin on multiple live New Year's Eve specials. Bad things happen — which he should have known by now.

Cooper will continue to be the face of CNN. And his new boss, former NBC chieftain Jeff Zucker, might actually encourage him to get even wackier in the interests of drawing attention to the ratings-challenged network. After all, various YouTube videos of Griffin smooching Cooper's crotch have already blasted well past 100,000 views. And CNN basically celebrated on Tuesday night by re-teaming them.

You might want to remember this the next time CNN also asks you to take Cooper seriously. Right now for me, that's no longer in the cards.

Instead I'd like to see Howard Kurtz question Cooper's New Year's Eve stint during a segment on CNN's Sunday morning Reliable Sources program. It would be a sure-fire topic if it were any other network's primary news anchor. Let's see what develops while you can see for yourself in the below video.

Read more by Ed Bark at unclebarky.com

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Doug of Los Angeles
Who cares?! I like tuning in every year to watch these two (presumably) friends have a little fun with each other. Clearly, Anderson Cooper's job is to just weather the storm that is Kathy Griffin with some amount of dignity. I like it and it sure beats the other television alternatives.
Jan 6, 2013   |  Reply
But did he really weather New Year's Eve with "some amount of dignity?" Methinks not. Almost worse yet, he then invited her back on New Year's Day.
Jan 7, 2013
A bit of risque reparte´with a news anchor is all fine and well, and nothing beats the sincerity of live moments on TV. However, I am trying to envision Cronkite or Dan Rather getting a mock BJ on live TV as part of a planned event. Somehow, I can't get there. Thumbs down on Cooper's New Year's gig. I guess my mistake here is putting Cooper into the upper news echelon. --EG
Jan 7, 2013
Blair Hyatt
Really? You all take yourselves too seriously. Low brow humor should not make us Anderson anyone seriously as a media person. Taking someone seriously should be based not on image but on substance. It that case most media people should be a shamed.
Jan 6, 2013   |  Reply
Ron Gregory
All that a listener has to do is watch Cooper's RIDICULIST a time or two to know that he should be #1 on that particular list of inappropriate "news" on the program. Cooper is an embarrassment to all news people and, particularly to himself. Apparently, he's too blind/dumb to recognize himself in the mirror. He should watch a recording or two of himself, and then he should seek employment as a bartender at a gay establishment where he could appropriately and successfully draw a crowd.
Jan 4, 2013   |  Reply
I don't necessarily disagree with anything here, but it reminds me of "The Insider" that questioned the lines between the News and Entertainment divisions of television channels (though, I suppose CNN is supposed to be all news, though many of its programs don't appear to be newsy at all). 60 Minutes interviewing NFL personalities after games, Brian Williams criticizing his network's coverage of the Olympics on the Daily Show while also trying to get viewers to Rock Center, GMA and Today spending 10% of their time on news and 90% of makeovers--no channel or person is immune to the entertainment creep. News (and their paltry ratings) is paid by entertainment, and news must sometimes cater to the entertainment wishes. To indict Cooper alone is somewhat unfair (though, clearly, he and his network have done himself no favors).
Jan 4, 2013   |  Reply
David Marlow
One quibble: comparing Griffin to Andrew Dice Clay is completely unfair. The Dice Man was sometimes actually funny.
Jan 3, 2013   |  Reply
Wasn't really comparing their humor, just the idea of inviting Diceman to a kids' birthday party as compared to Cooper putting himself in proximity to Kathy Griffin during a live telecast. I kinda liked the Diceman, too, back in his day. Although not that much.
Jan 7, 2013
I'm not a prude, but tv is in a continual march toward the lowest common denominator. You can't say "T & A" when singing A Chorus Line song in honor of Marvin Hamlisch on PBS, but these "shenanigans" were going on with nary a blinked eye. Guy Lombardo just rolled over in his grave.
Jan 3, 2013   |  Reply
I take no issue with anything you wrote, but I'd remind you that the esteemed Charlie Rose got his initial introduction to a national audience in the 80's on a syndicated talk show, one of many that tried to go after some of Oprah's and Phil Donahue's audiences. That flopped, and now, 20-odd years later, his PBS program is so well respected that CBS hired him to co-host their morning news program and provide it some veneer of gravitas. So Anderson, if he truly wants to be taken seriously, can still climb out of the hole he's dug himself. But I agree, Job One is to ditch Kathy Griffin.
Jan 3, 2013   |  Reply
True. But once you change course, I think you have to be relatively true to that course. Mike Wallace started out as a game show host. But you didn't see him in that guise again after he became the alpha dog of "60 Minutes." Cooper is entitled to his "Mole" past. And I used to cover Rose during his even earlier stint as a talk show host in D-FW. At some point, though, make up your mind what you want to be and do. Cooper still doesn't seem to have a clue in that respect.
Jan 9, 2013
Even without the ill-advised "entertainment" appearances, Cooper is severely compromised. He's the quintessential "Never forget, WE'RE the story" anchor.
Jan 3, 2013   |  Reply
David Marlow
'He's the quintessential "Never forget, WE'RE the story" anchor.'

Jan 3, 2013
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