Scoot: Was CNN wrong for reporting on pot smoking New Year’s Eve?

January 02, 2018 - 11:27 am

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  If you are reading this blog it means you survived another New Year’s Eve celebration!  Congratulations!  I do hope you enjoyed welcoming in 2018.

New Orleans has risen to the point of consistently being listed as one the top 5 best places to bring in the New Year and on one list was #1 this year!  The frivolity of bringing in a New Year flows seamlessly into the nightly traditions that define New Orleans.

ABC’s “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” was at the Jax Brewery for the countdown to the moment 2018 began in the Central Time zone and national network coverage of New Year’s Eve in New Orleans was popular across most of the networks.  But, it was CNN’s coverage of New Year’s Eve that appeared to get the most post-celebration attention.

This year, the CNN New Year’s Eve coverage was hosted by Anderson Cooper and his longtime friend (not partner), Andy Cohen.  Alleged comedian, Kathy Griffin, who had hosted the countdown show with Anderson for years was fired by CNN after pictures of Griffin holding up what appeared to the be the ISIS-style bloodied and severed head of President Trump.  The decision to post that picture caused a major backlash against Griffin and many, including myself, were ecstatic over the absence of Kathy Griffin on New Year’s Eve.

CNN sent hosts Don Lemmon and Brooke Baldwin back to New Orleans to anchor the New Year’s Eve festivities from a bar in the French Quarter.  Don and Brooke kissed at midnight; but earlier, Don Lemon kissed his new boyfriend, who is a guy he met in the same bar last year during his coverage of New Year’s Eve in NOLA.  Don mentioned that Brooke is now engaged to a man she met in the same bar two years ago.  That bar seems to have a great ROI!  But it was the coverage of New Year’s Eve by CNN correspondent Randi Kaye that attracted the most attention and criticism.

CNN’s Randi Kaye was in Colorado reporting live from a pot party bus heading to a party called, “Puff, Pass and Paint.”  I assume this is the kind of bus The WHO sang about in their classic rock hit, “Magic Bus.”

At one point, Randi Kaye said live on CNN, “I think I’m going to get a little high, right now.”  Kaye also modeled a gas mask bong, which might be a popular item should the nuclear threats from North Korea continue to ramp up in 2018.

Randi Kaye’s comments and her mere presence on the pot party bus drew criticism.  One tweet accused CNN of promoting drug use on the air.  Another tweet read, “This is where your morals have landed in 2018?  Old ladies and a gas mask bong?  CNN loves pot. #FakeNewsCNN.”

Let’s start with the absurd and inaccurate description of Randi Kaye’s reporting as “fake news.”  “Fake news” is any news story that is fabricated for the purpose attracting attention – clicks, listeners or viewers.  “Fake news” is not real news.  Randi Kaye’s live reports were not “fake news,” which is a reminder that the use of the term “fake news” is used to describe news one disagrees.  That is not the definition of “fake news.”  We will have a lot of work to do in 2018 to set the record straight on “fake news.”  However, I am realistic and realize that many who falsely declare news they disagree with to be “fake news” will never be open to understand the truth about “fake news.”  But that’s a topic for future blogs and shows.

Is the criticism of CNN’s decision to have a reporter on a pot party bus in Colorado headed for a pot party fair?  The recreational use of marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado.  That means that CNN and reporter Randi Kaye were not breaking any laws.  But more importantly, if CNN and other media outlets cover the drinking of alcohol to celebrate the arrival of the New Year, why would it be wrong to show people smoking pot in a state where smoking pot is legal?


For the record, I do not smoke pot.  I have talked about this on my radio talk show.  I did smoke pot in the past and have been very honest about that; but it has been many, many years since I did.  My defense of legalizing pot and my defense of CNN showing pot use in a state where pot is legal is not based on any personal agenda, other than my agenda to remaining consistent.  The comparison of the use of pot and the use of alcohol is fair.

If you argue that pot is a drug – then you must recognize that alcohol is a drug, too.  People smoke pot or drink for the same reasons. 

Supporting the drinking of alcohol to celebrate the beginning of the New Year, while criticizing the use of pot in the same setting, is the height of hypocrisy. 

The continued condemnation of pot harkens back to the American government’s campaign to depict marijuana as a drug equal to drugs, like heroin.  In fact, today, marijuana and heroin are both Schedule 1 narcotics.  Equating the dangers of marijuana with the dangers of heroin destroys the government’s credibility in assessing drugs in America.

 CNN did not do anything wrong in reporting the open use of pot in a state where the recreational use of marijuana is legal. CNN’s decision to have a correspondent on a pot party bus is equal to all the accepted coverage of toasting champagne at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Even if you do not smoke pot – do you believe that there is essentially no difference between pot use and drinking alcohol?

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