CNN host Anderson Cooper said Tuesday night that he was as “surprised” as everyone else who watched the network’s controversial New Year’s Eve coverage of a pot party in Colorado.

Mr. Cooper, who co-hosted CNN’s New Year’s Eve countdown in Times Square with Andy Cohen, assured Stephen Colbert during “The Late Show” that reporter Randi Kaye’s coverage of a “Pot & Paint” party in Denver was perfectly legal, however bizarre.

“She did not smoke, obviously. She was just in the environment,” Mr. Cooper said.

“The whole thing surprised me as much as anybody else, I gotta tell you,” he added, laughing.

In the pot segment Sunday night, Ms. Kaye wore marijuana leaf earrings and briefly donned a gas mask bong. She also offered Mr. Cohen a pink joint through the camera and showed viewers how a vaporizer works.

Mr. Cohen was delighted by the broadcast but Mr. Cooper appeared a bit wary.

“This doesn’t seem like a good idea,” he said at one point.

Social conservatives blasted the segment as promoting drug use.

“CNN is trying to trademark the debauchery as its brand for New Year’s Eve coverage. I mean that quite seriously,” Media Research Center President Brent Bozell told Fox Business on Tuesday.

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Fox News host Laura Ingraham tweeted: “We’ll see how this all works out for our country. More potheads, increase in cases of schizophrenia, psychosis, more impaired driving…as #BigWeed makes billions.”

“CNN ended the year on a ridiculous high note — a reporter marveling over all the ways to get legally high in a pot den!” she added. “And I’m taking heat from the media, after calling them out?”

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