Actor Alec Baldwin is on the board of People for the American Way (PFAW), the folks behind Right Wing Watch. He is also the guy, who, in his younger days came across as “edgy,” but seems now to leave you wondering if he is borderline unhinged even at the best of times. He seems to be, in other words, the kind of guy tabloids were made for.
In what the New York Daily News rightly calls “a whine-filled New York magazine essay” last night, Baldwin told Joe Hagan that he thinks Rachel Maddow is a phony. Obviously, none of us get to pal around with Rachel Maddow or Alec Baldwin off camera, to see how genuine either of them are, but what we get here is a choice between a guy who seems to be perpetually in trouble for one thing or another, and a woman who does not.
I, for one, who to whom I am giving the benefit of the doubt.
Baldwin’s swings at Maddow seem like pathetically sour-grapes, part of a childish take down of everybody who “wronged” him (at least in his own mind). He starts off by offering us MSNBC’s warts:
I watched MSNBC, prior to working there, very sporadically. Once I had signed a contract with them, I wanted to see more of what they were about. It turned out to be the same shit all day long. The only difference was who was actually pulling off whatever act they had come up with. Morning Joe was boring. Scarborough is neither eloquent nor funny. And merely cranky doesn’t always work well in the morning. Mika B. is the Margaret Dumont of cable news. I liked Chris Jansing a lot. Very straightforward. I like Lawrence O’Donnell, but he’s too smart to be doing that show. Rachel Maddow is Rachel Maddow, the ultimate wonk/dweeb who got a show, polished it, made it her own. She’s talented. The problem with everybody on MSNBC is none of them are funny, although that doesn’t prevent them from trying to be.
Baldwin’s specific problem with Maddow stems from his firing as host of MSNBC’s Up Late with Alec Baldwin. He was canned on November 26, 2013 after he got into it with a photographer and allegedly used an anti-gay slur. As we all know, Maddow is a lesbian.
Once they fired me, a former MSNBC employee I knew emailed me. He said, “You watch now, Phil [Griffin, head of MSNBC] is going to start leaking left and right to bury you.” When I left, “Page Six” was flooded with lies about me. Another told me, regarding the “toxic little queen” comment, that Rachel Maddow was the prime mover in my firing, as she was aghast that I had been hired and viewed me as equivalent to Mel Gibson. Another source told me, “You know who’s going to get you fired, don’t you? Rachel. Phil will do whatever Rachel tells him to do.” I think Rachel Maddow is quite good at what she does. I also think she’s a phony who doesn’t have the same passion for the truth off-camera that she seems to have on the air.
Baldwin complains that people react to him based on what other people say he said, but here he has done the same thing to Rachel Maddow. The actor claims in the same essay that ” I’m self-aware enough to know that I am to blame for some of this” but how true is that? It could be argued that if he was really aware that he was doing these harmful things to his public image and perhaps even torpedoing his own career, that he would stop doing them. He has, in fact, displayed very little self awareness in his New York Magazine whine fest, and his attack on Maddow seems nothing short of gratuitous.
What strikes me as truly sad is that Baldwin ends his “poor me” rant with a comment about a troubled, younger version of himself, Shia LaBeouf, who is also responsible for many of his own problems. LaBeouf wore a bag over his head at a Berlin premier this month that said, “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE.” Baldwin says, “And there was truly a part of me that felt sorry for him, oddly enough.” I don’t know how sorry we should feel for Baldwin.
College quarterbacks living in a frat culture are red-flagged by the NFL for acting like college guys who live in a frat culture. Heisman trophy winner Johnny “Football” Manziel is a case in point, if you’ve been paying attention to the 2014 Combine in Indianapolis. And here we have Alec Baldwin, at 55 just a couple years younger than me, upset that we don’t accept him acting like he’s a 19-year-old frat boy. He’s a grown man with responsibilities. Johnny Manziel says he is aware that certain behavior is now expected of him and that he knows he must leave his old college behaviors behind. Time will tell if he means it, or if he is just saying what is expected of him. Alec Baldwin has said and done enough to give the public real reason to doubt his own maturity, and this whine-filled essay does not help his image one bit.
Maybe we need to red-flag our celebrities as well. As in sports, some will be character guys and others will not. They reveal themselves in time.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.