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
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
August 23, 2014 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT)
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2231 GMT (0631 HKT)
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1223 GMT (2023 HKT)
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1450 GMT (2250 HKT)
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2203 GMT (0603 HKT)
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2152 GMT (0552 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2121 GMT (0521 HKT)
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
ADVERTISEMENT