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
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1832 GMT (0232 HKT)
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2103 GMT (0503 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2125 GMT (0525 HKT)
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2055 GMT (0455 HKT)
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
October 26, 2014 -- Updated 1904 GMT (0304 HKT)
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 0032 GMT (0832 HKT)
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1119 GMT (1919 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says control of the Senate will be decided by a few close contests
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1212 GMT (2012 HKT)
The response of some U.S. institutions that should know better to Ebola has been anything but inspiring, writes Idris Ayodeji Bello.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
ADVERTISEMENT