CNN is under fire for a vulgar New Year's Eve show in which co-hosts Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin launched into a raunchy routine drenched in explicit sexual innuendo.
The cable news network has let "one of its highest visibility show hosts and its brand be debased," TV critic David Zurawik wrote in a scathing column in the Baltimore Sun
In the show, aired live around the world from Times Square in New York City, the acerbic female comic of "My Life on the D List" fame repeatedly stooped down before Cooper as if she were trying to perform a sex act.
"I'm going to tickle your sack," Griffin declared.
"I don't know what you're talking about,’’ Cooper quickly shot back. “I have no sack of gifts here. A sack of Christmas presents. I did not bring a sack of Christmas presents."
Griffin replied: "You're calling your privates your Christmas presents?"
When she appeared to kiss Cooper’s crotch, he sheepishly asked, "Did you drop something?"
"No, I was kissing your sardine," Griffin cracked. "I can do it again. I can do this all night long."
"No, sweetie," scolded Cooper, quickly pulling Griffin back to her feet.
"You know you want to," Griffin said.
"Believe me, I really don't," Cooper responded.
The sardine angle was explained by USA Today's bemused Ann Oldenburg who reported that just after midnight Cooper cut to a report by correspondent Gary Tuchman from Eastport, Maine, where the town's custom is to kiss an 8-foot sardine after it has dropped from the top of a building.
“When I saw Griffin first kiss Cooper's crotch, and listened to all her shock-jock double-entendre crap surrounding it, I had two thoughts: First, Jeff Zucker can't take over fast enough at CNN, which seems to have utterly lost its grip with stuff like this," Zurawik wrote, referring to the former "Today" show producer just named president of CNN Worldwide.
"And second, maybe Cooper's image is bulletproof, but how much of this silliness can he keep indulging before people start to say, 'Hey, maybe this is who this guy really is — a giggling clown, not a newsman?'"
The New York Daily News was also dismissive of the risqué New Year's Eve chatter.
"Memo to Anderson Cooper: Your resolution for 2013 may want to be to stop inviting Kathy Griffin back for CNN's New Year's Eve live coverage," the Daily News wrote.
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