Dear Alec Baldwin, MSNBC: What Did You Expect?

Actor turned cable host's run-ins with paparazzi as sad as they are predictable

It would be easier to feel sorry for Alec Baldwin and MSNBC if their latest string of shared headaches wasn’t so woefully predictable.

Baldwin, like a lot of celebrities, doesn’t appreciate having cameras shoved in his face, especially when their children are involved. So this morning, he confronted a reporter from the local Fox station in a threatening manner, warning him not to be there when Baldwin left with his wife and kid. The non-incident — lamented with crocodile tears by the show’s morning anchors — follows Baldwin’s blow-up at a photographer and use of what sure sounded like an anti-gay slur, for which he later apologized.

Now MSNBC is inevitably going to get pressed about whether it wants to be associated with Baldwin, who hosts a weekly program on the network that replaced an hour of its weekend prison documentaries, while the actor’s outbursts will only make harassing him that much more profitable and tantalizing to the TMZ feeders of the world, who live for exactly that sort of raw moment. (UPDATE: The network announced a two-week suspension of Baldwin’s program, which, in spin-control terms, is the equivalent of slapping a band-aid on an open wound, and hoping the heat blows over and the media move on to some fresh outrage.)

To which one can only ask the following:

Of Baldwin: Did you really think hosting a show on MSNBC, in this politically polarized environment, wouldn’t attract scads more attention — not just from the tabloid media that feasts on you, but the right-wing media that despises your politics? Is the platform, filling an hour Lawrence O’Donnell couldn’t be bothered to work, really worth the headaches?

Of MSNBC: Was the fleeting headline associated with attracting a star to your network in such a limited capacity worth all the fuss? Did anyone over there read up on Baldwin’s history, or recognize that despite being a talented actor and an extremely articulate one in discussing politics, he has a history of fracases of this sort, which usually results in phone calls at odd hours, asking for comment? Were the meager business benefits, if any, of having a weekly Baldwin program justified by the burst of publicity, and did anyone bother to check with the PR department before entering into this arrangement?

As stated, Baldwin should be able to walk down a public street without being bothered or molested. But for a star — particularly one who braves the political arena — that’s not the world we live in, and lamenting the fact, or shouting at photographers, won’t change it.

You guys did know all of that, right?

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