That the New York Post and Alec Baldwin got into another spat is not news, really. But the latest battle between the paper and Baldwin is a little uglier, and a little unsettling, and a little more racist than their normal tiffs.
Baldwin and the Post have a long history of getting into it. That Baldwin had a dust-up with a Post photographer is hardly a new thing. It happens from time to time to time. The Post even went after Baldwin's wife on the weekend, reporting on a Huffington Post blogger suing the yoga instructor for an injury sustained in her class.
But the latest row between the actor and the rag is different because the paper is accusing Baldwin of calling a Post photographer a "coon," a "crackhead," and a "drug-dealer." Around 11 a.m. on Sunday morning, the Post reports their reporter and photographer approached Baldwin while he was walking his dogs, asking about the lawsuit against his wife. Baldwin allegedly grabbed the reporter and told her he wanted to "choke her to death." That's when he allegedly called the Post's photographer, a former NYPD officer, a "coon," and a "drug dealer." The photographer said Baldwin and he were involved in a "tete-a-tete" [sic] that also saw Baldwin push the photographer, say bad things about his mother, and offer instruction to "suck" Baldwin's appendage.
Baldwin's take on the issue is a much different story. Speaking to Gothamist, Baldwin says the Post employees followed him across the street while he was walking his dogs. The photographer was, "right up in my face as I crossed University Place," Baldwin said. "I get to the other side of the street, and he bumped into me." Baldwin accused the Post employees of trying to incite some kind of altercation. He also accused the photographer of making up the racial accusations to give the story an even more controversial bent. When Baldwin got home, he called the cops to file a harassment complaint. This is what he told Gothamist in reference to the racial accusations:
"When they were there, no one made any mention of anything. While police were here, you'd figure that'd be an opportune time for this guy to really attempt to tar me in some way. But there was no mention of anything I said to him, no one said anything about me saying the N-word or taunting him or anything. So it was after the fact. He wants to say I used some racial slur against him."
Additionally, Baldwin has been vocal on Twitter about the accusations:
I wonder if the Post will report that I called the police and filed a formal complaint against their "photographer?"— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) February 17, 2013
Thank u 2 NYPD officers who came 2 my home 2day so that I could file a formal complaint against NY Post "photographer" who assaulted me.— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) February 17, 2013
I slipped and fell on the trail of oil the Post "photographer" left near my bldg.Who do I sue?— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) February 17, 2013
I wonder what outrageous claims the Post will make tomorrow re the "photographer" I filed an NYPD complaint against today.— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) February 18, 2013
My publicist has just informed me that the "photographer" from the Post is claiming I called him a racial epithet, prior to calling the cops— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) February 18, 2013
That's kind of magical thinking, isn't it?The Post accusing me of racism?— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) February 18, 2013
So, really, it comes down to who you believe. Is Baldwin just another star hounded by paparazzi? Or were the Post reporter and photographer the victims of Baldwin's goonish behavior? In another tweet, since deleted, the Post alleges Baldwin called their photographer "Ralston," which is not his name. They also allege that Baldwin called another black Post photographer "Rodney," during an altercation last year. So, they're laying it on thick that Baldwin is a racist, and that it's not new behavior. But this also the Post we're talking about, peddlers of smut and voice of the crazies; the paper standing on the street corner shouting about the apocalypse when all you want is a coffee in the morning. No one would ever dispute an argument that Alec Baldwin is a jerk. But there might be some hesitation to believe that he's a racist jerk.
Both sides gave reports to police, but no charges have been filed, and no one expect them to be. So, as a legal matter, this is the end of it, unless one side or the other decides to file a civil suit. But why would they? A Baldwin vs. New York Post lawsuit would get, like, no press coverage, right?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.