Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Media, stop stalking Alec Baldwin

By Howard Kurtz, CNN
December 4, 2012 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Howard Kurtz says the legal system is dealing with Alec Baldwin's alleged stalker. But the media seems to be stalking him too.
Howard Kurtz says the legal system is dealing with Alec Baldwin's alleged stalker. But the media seems to be stalking him too.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Howard Kurtz: New York Post has been afflicting Alec Baldwin, who is correct to vent spleen
  • He says Canadian woman has allegedly stalked Baldwin, was arrested in April, last month
  • He says Baldwin rages against paparazzi; what is price of celebrity, limits of privacy?
  • Kurtz: Post's Peyser defends alleged stalker; it seems some in media are stalking Baldwin too

Editor's note: Howard Kurtz is the host of CNN's "Reliable Sources" and is Newsweek's Washington bureau chief. He is also a contributor to the website Daily Download.

(CNN) -- Okay, so Alec Baldwin isn't the world's most sympathetic character. He throws tantrums, smacks the occasional photographer and was once caught on tape calling his preteen daughter a "thoughtless little pig."

But he's still right to vent his spleen at the New York Post.

"Everyone who breathes air knows the Post is the worst newspaper in human history," Baldwin declared on Twitter.

Howard Kurtz
Howard Kurtz

Well, human history might be going a bit far. Baldwin was responding to caustic columnist Andrea Peyser, who called him a "bloviating psycho." Rupert Murdoch's paper has obviously taken great delight in targeting the liberal actor. But there's a larger issue here than just another tantalizing tabloid feud.

Baldwin has allegedly been pursued by a stalker, which is no laughing matter. And he has mounted something of a crusade against the stalking photographers known as the paparazzi. So when you strip away the name-calling, as entertaining as that is, this is a debate about the price of celebrity and the limits of privacy.

Watch: Did Rupert Murdoch Skate in British Report on Phone Hacking?

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.)

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



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.

Watch: Are TV Newsbabes Dressing Sexy for Ratings?

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.

Alec Baldwin offers to take pay cut
Baldwin: Wedding was a 'great weekend'
Tough Call: Tony Danza for NYC mayor?
Alec Baldwin's start on a soap

Watch: Media Embrace Cop Who Bought Boots for Homeless Man

So even if Baldwin is no Jack Donaghy, the suave TV executive he plays on NBC, does he deserve this? Does being famous mean the privacy laws somehow don't apply to you? Baldwin is hardly immune from ridicule, but he's entitled to the same legal protection as an ordinary Joe.

The Post's Peyser, who can be bitingly funny, has chosen to launch a crusade on Genevieve Sabourin's behalf. Last April she wrote, obviously tongue in cheek, of her own "cracked and perverse relationship" with Baldwin, driven by her "all-out and disturbingly weird and committed obsession" with the actor. He got personal as well, tweeting, "Andrea Peyser, you are as bad a writer as you are filled with self-hatred."

Watch: Why a Video of a Botched Butt Implant Went Viral

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 tweeted, "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." Baldwin's spokesman Matthew Hiltzik confirmed the series of tweets, which the actor later took down, but declined further comment.

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.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Howard Kurtz.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Ronald Reagan went horseback riding and took a vacation after the Korean Air Crash of 1983. So why does the GOP keep airbrushing history to bash Obama?
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1338 GMT (2138 HKT)
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Errol Louis says the tragic death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD has its roots in the "broken windows" police strategy from the crime-ridden '80s.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Texas Gov. Rick Perry is right to immediately send 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the border children crisis.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
July 19, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1755 GMT (0155 HKT)
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1953 GMT (0353 HKT)
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1933 GMT (0333 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT