This morning, media critic Howard Kurtz launched a defense of left-wing actor Alec Baldwin coupled with a truly bizarre attack against New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser. Kurtz, though, doesn’t make a lick of sense or approach anything close to a point. All he’s obviously doing is looking for any excuse to polish his left-wing bona fides and to smear anything having to do with Rupert Murdoch (owner of the Post).
Peyser and Baldwin have a longstanding public feud. She calls him “bloviating” and “blubberous.” He calls her “partisan trash…”
You know, it’s a New York thing.
But now Kurtz has decided to weigh in on the side of Baldwin and against Peyser. The only thing, though, is that his argument makes absolutely no sense. See if you can follow the logic:
Here’s the back story. Baldwin, the star of “30 Rock,” has allegedly been harassed by a Canadian actress named Genevieve Sabourin. She claims they had a sexual encounter, what the Post calls a “sweaty night of passion,” in 2010, and that they maintained an online romantic relationship for months. (Baldwin says they only had dinner.)
Sabourin was arrested in April after showing up at Baldwin’s Greenwich Village apartment building, according to news reports. She has also allegedly appeared at a Lincoln Center screening where the actor was speaking, hung around his Hamptons retreat and sent him dozens of e-mails, the New York Daily News reported. One had the subject heading “Defcon 1,” according to an affidavit signed by Baldwin, ABC news reported, and said if he didn’t talk to Sabourin that she would start a war against him.
Sabourin was arrested again last week for violating a court order by allegedly aiming a series of tweets at Baldwin and his wife, Hilaria, the 28-year-old yoga instructor he married last spring. Apparently you can just as easily harass someone online as in person. The woman described by her lawyer as “starstruck” was released from jail after a judge rejected a prosecution request for $5,000 bail. Sabourin is fighting the charges. …
Peyser now writes that “the blubberous Baldwin” should drop the charges. Baldwin says the matter is out of his hands, now that the district attorney has brought charges. As for the New York Post, Baldwin says, according to his spokesman Matthew Hiltzik, “Shame on them for politicizing a criminal case … and shame on the morally bankrupt partisan trash Andrea Peyser, who demeans all women by inferring that a charge of criminal harassment is overkill when the defendant is a woman. The ‘lovesick’ defense”
Okay, so some woman Baldwin had dinner with once upon a time has started to allegedly stalk him and was just arrested after tweeting Baldwin in violation of a court order. Pending charges have been filed against the woman and Peyser, in turn, is stating the charges are overkill and that Baldwin should drop them.
Let me just back up here to clear up a couple of points: First off, though it’s been a few years, Andrea Peyser has written for the Big sites. Secondly, I disagree with her about dropping the charges against this woman. Stalking is creepy and scary and can lead to awful things. It should be taken seriously.
But rather than simply say what I just did, Kurtz instead manufactures a correlation between what Peyser’s doing and — no joke — stalking, wiretapping, and trampling on Baldwin’s rights.
I don’t mind Peyser using Baldwin as her personal piñata; she’s in the columnizing business, and he’s certainly fair game. But there is a mindset in which the press feels free to trample on the rights of celebrities, as when Murdoch’s London tabloid News of the World mercilessly hacked the phones of British stars.
The legal system is doing fine in dealing with Alec Baldwin’s alleged stalker. But some in the media seem to be stalking Baldwin as well.
Is that supposed to even approach some level of making sense?
The feud between Peyser and Baldwin is a two-sided affair (and quite entertaining), and to compare only one side of this two-sided affair with something as serious as stalking is not only a smear but undermines how serious stalking really is.
Moreover, Kurtz’s awkward aside about the British hacking scandal is yet-another completely false correlation. Peyser’s writing of her opinion and engaging in the time-honored New York columnist act of engaging in a feud isn’t hacking anything. And to imply such a thing is not only a smear – it’s downright stupid.
But nothing is dumber than Kurtz floating the idea that publishing one’s opinion of Alec Baldwin somehow tramples on his rights.
Pure ad hominem.
How does a media critic get so spun off his axis he chides one of his own for practicing the First Amendment?
*This story is part of the Big Journalism Live Blog, which you can bookmark here.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC