Allison Payne has been saying for years that her slurred speech, glassy-eyed gaze and occasionally erratic behavior on the air are due to a series of ministrokes from which she was recovering. Even as she took a lengthy leave of absence from Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9, the veteran news anchor insisted there was nothing more to it.
"I was not drunk," she once famously told Tribune media columnist‚ Phil Rosenthal, while apologizing to viewers who flooded the station with calls of concern after observing her swivel in her chair and slur her words during a 9 p.m. newscast in August 2008. She blamed the incident on "lingering effects of a series of ministrokes . . . compounded by overwork and perhaps a bit of adrenaline-fueled giddiness."
On Thursday, during a live interview on the midday newscast she co-anchors with Steve Sanders, Payne, 45, went public with what many of her co-workers have suspected -- that she's also been battling addiction.