Kathy Griffin Lays Into CNN Over Reportedly Backing out of Hiring Leslie Jones for New Year's Eve

Comedian Kathy Griffin spent New Year's Eve going on a Twitter rant against CNN, claiming the network backed out of hiring Saturday Night Live star Leslie Jones. Griffin also lashed out at CNN for allegedly giving her a pay cut when she asked for a raise to continue hosting the show.

"I’m so flattered and touched by all the comments saying that you miss me co-hosting the New Year’s Eve telecast. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the positivity and I want you to know how grateful I am," Griffin began. "So, I wanted to share some juicy gossip I heard about the telecast."

"I heard from a few different people that the hilarious [Jones] was in talks to co-host CNN’s New Year’s telecast with Anderson Cooper this year," Griffin continued. "I was elated when I heard this news. If I can’t get the gig, I will cheer for Leslie. I don’t know her, but I thought it was such a great idea for CNN to have a woman of color over 50 who is so sharp, improvisational, and hilarious. I was ready to congratulate her publicly."

Griffin claimed she later heard CNN "downgraded" Jones from Anderson Cooper's co-host to a "guest role."

"Anything less than co-hosting screams to me very little or no pay, and a lack of respect for someone who is such a proven talent, has a big fan base, and knows what she’s doing. She has paid her dues and then some," Griffin continued.

Later, Griffin said she heard NBC did not want Jones to appear on a rival network, but "this didn't pass the smell test" with her. She accused CNN chief Jeff Zucker — who previously worked at NBC — of not working out a deal. If Andy Cohen, the star of the NBCUniversal-owned Bravo network, can co-host with Cooper, why not Jones?

"You have to admit, it didn’t make sense that NBC Uni wouldn’t have a problem with Andy Cohen, who also works for NBC Uni, appearing on CNN, but would have a problem with Leslie?" Griffin wrote. "Since Leslie didn't work out, CNN couldn't find one woman standup comic star to co-host? Jeff?"

Griffin then went on to share her own experiences with CNN. She hosted the network's New Year's Eve coverage from New York between 2009 and 2017, when she was fired after the controversial photos of her holding a severed doll head resembling President Donald Trump surfaced.

The former Fashion Police host claimed she was not paid for the first two years of co-hosting. When she finally was, she was paid $150,000 a year. When she approached Zucker for a raise, her paycheck was cut by 30 percent, she claimed.

"The first two years I appeared on CNN, it didn’t even occur to me to ask for a salary," Griffin wrote. "The 8th year when I asked Jeff Zucker for a raise, he was so angry he docked me 30%. I’m sorry to say I took the pay cut because I truly enjoyed making you all laugh."

"I really hope [Jones] has been paid fairly for New Years...but I'm not optimistic. The boys get paid much, much more in the comedy industry and that is a fact I know a lot about," Griffin wrote.

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Jones will be featured on NBC's New Year's Eve broadcast, alongside The Voice host Carson Daly, Chrissy Teigen and NBC News' Lester Holt. Performers include Bebe Rexha, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Diana Ross, Andy Grammer and Blake Shelton. Keith Urban and Brett Young's performances from Nashville will be featured, along with Jennifer Lopez in Los Angeles.

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