“I’m no longer a functioning alcoholic,” former WGGB anchor Paul Mueller announced in a recent phone conversation, talking about his struggle with addiction that came to a head in April when a YouTube video of him slurring his speech while MC-ing a charity event bounced around the internet and eventually caused him to resign.
“At the beginning, I was so unhappy with the person that posted the video but now I’m grateful to them,” Mueller told TVSpy. “They saved my life.”
Mueller has since sought help for his alcoholism and, as of today, he has been sober for 43 days. He has travelled a great distance during those 43 days (as evidenced by the Day 1 photo at right), moving beyond the initial humiliation caused by the YouTube video and focussing his energy on becoming a better, healthier person.
The early wake-up time and long hours required for his job anchoring WGGB’s morning newscast left Mueller, a recent transplant to Springfield, feeling isolated. “The shift was enabling me,” Mueller says. On a typical day, he would wake up at 2:00 a.m. and return home from work around 3:00 p.m., at which point he would spend the rest of the day drinking.
Mueller’s daily routine of heavy drinking led to his now-infamous appearance at a fund-raising gala for the Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation, an organization that gives scholarships to local students in honor of the 11-year-old boy who hanged himself two years ago after being bullied at school. In speaking before a packed house, Mueller slurred his words and repeatedly lost his train of thought. He admits that he doesn’t remember much from that night.
“I take full responsibility for what I did,” he says, mentioning that he has since apologized to the foundation and the Walker-Hoover family. The remorse he felt following the gala was especially acute since Mueller, who is gay, was often the target of homophobic bullying growing up.
The fallout from the YouTube video motivated Mueller to put things into perspective and seek help for his addiction. He feels lucky that his alcoholism only led to “embarrassment and humiliation” instead of causing something much more serious, like “manslaughter, murder, prison.”
Mueller has struggled with alcoholism for much of his career and this isn’t the first time that he’s attempted to quit drinking. During his time with WLNE, he quit only to eventually relapse. While with WGGB, many of his colleagues suspected that he had a drinking problem but no one spoke up beyond criticizing him on the occasions that he would show up late for work following a bender.
Even though he has been a functioning alcoholic through much of his career as a TV news anchor, Mueller insists that he never drank before work or on the air. Citing the mental and physical demands of anchoring a newscast, he says that he could “never have done that.”
So what’s next for Paul Mueller? Even though he would love to return to TV news–it’s been his dream job since he was a young kid putting on fake newscasts at home–Mueller says that his focus now is on staying sober. He posted the following video to YouTube on Sunday night, announcing his progress:
“People know who I am today for that,” Mueller told TVSpy, “and now I intend for people to know me for winning my battle with alcoholism.”