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MSNBC Suspends Alec Baldwin’s Show For Two Weeks

Actor suspended after confronting TV reporter

Alec Baldwin’s “Up Late” program will not air tonight or next Friday on MSNBC in the wake of comments the actor made while dealing with reporters seeking to question him about a salacious court case in which he is involved.

“I did not intend to hurt or offend anyone with my choice of words, but clearly I have – and for that I am deeply sorry,” Baldwin said in a statement posted on MSNBC’s website. “Words are important. I understand that, and will choose mine with great care going forward. What I said and did this week, as I was trying to protect my family, was offensive and unacceptable. Behavior like this undermines hard-fought rights that I vigorously support. I understand “Up Late” will be taken off the schedule for tonight and next week. I want to apologize to my loyal fans and to my colleagues at MSNBC – both for my actions and for distracting from their good work. Again, please accept my apology.”

Baldwin, who testified this week at a trial of a woman accused of stalking him, was asked about the case by a reporter from WNYW, a Fox-operated TV station in New York. Baldwin brushed by the reporter, but then turned and confronted him, saying, “If you’re still here when my wife and kid come out, you’re going to have a big problem, you know that?”

He then insulted the reporter, saying, “You are as dumb as you look. You are with Fox, right?”

On Thursday, Baldwin warded off photographers he felt were getting too close to his family. At one point during the confrontation, he was heard using an anti-gay slur.  Baldwin later used Twitter to call attention to the offensiveness of such language. 

The suspension is not the first time MSNBC has taken one of its personalities off the air. In 2010, MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann, then its best-known anchor, after discovering he had made political donations to three Democratic congressional candidates – an act that was said to be in violation of NBC News ethics policies. In the end, the suspension lasted just a handful of days.

Baldwin’s program typically features guests in one-on-one conversation with the actor, who has developed a reputation with NBCUniversal during his tenure on “30 Rock,” which aired on the NBC broadcast network, and as a host multiple times on “Saturday Night Live.”  The show’s premiere featured an hour-long interview with Bill de Blasio, just days before he was elected Mayor of New York City.

While announcement of the program on MSNBC raised some eyebrows – Baldwin is not a journalist and his support for liberal causes is well-known – its ratings have not been stellar. The most recent episode, broadcast November 8, reached 395,000 viewers overall, according to Nielsen data. Among viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, the demographic preferred by advertisers in news programming, 101,000 tuned in. In contrast, the premiere of “Up Late” attracted 654,000 viewers overall and 172,000 between the ages of 25 to 54.

Prior to launching “Up Late,” MSNBC was running documentary-style programming under the rubric “MSNBC Investigates.”

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