Just a couple of months ago, Alec Baldwin won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, a role that’s also won him wide acclaim and even a book deal. But this past weekend, life unfortunately imitated art when Baldwin, who also has two Twitter accounts made like the president in using them to personally attack people—and particularly women—and generally cause an uproar.
Thankfully, unlike Trump, Baldwin has had the sense to step away from Twitter for the time being, though it was getting to the point where he didn’t seem to exactly have a choice. He had, after all, already been calling attention to himself on the site recently by personally attacking a female reporter who pointed out that Baldwin has remained suspiciously silent about how 200-plus women have come forward to accuse James Toback, whom Baldwin has a close friendship and working relationship with, of sexual harassment and assault. (Baldwin’s response to the so-called “dreadful writer” from the account of his organization that supports the arts: “Why don’t you let prosecutors and real journalists investigate such cases and you stick to divorces and plastic surgery.”)
That turns out to have just been the beginning of Baldwin’s latest controversies. Toback may have been a little close to home, but Baldwin did apparently feel comfortable speaking up about Harvey Weinstein, the former Hollywood mogul whom dozens of women have now accused of decades of sexual harassment, thereby opening the floodgates for more allegations against more predators in the industry to emerge.
Except, rather than going the normal route of condemning Weinstein, Baldwin instead targeted not only Weinstein’s most outspoken victim—one with an entire army behind her, Rose McGowan—but female victims in general in an interview with PBS NewsHour, which saw him first place the blame on McGowan for taking a settlement, and then arguing that women who take settlements are actually the ones perpetuating rape culture. (Rather than, you know, the rapists and harassers themselves.)
Unsurprisingly, this turned out to be an unwise decision. “Told you everyone knew. No one cared. Men ran the show. Women toed the line. No more,” McGowan tweeted after video circulated of Baldwin saying that people heard “the rumor” that Weinstein raped McGowan “for decades.” As for his point that women who take settlements—never mind that it’s often their only option, if they’re even in the position to speak up in the first place—are “set[ting] back the cause of change,” McGowan also asked, “Are you telling the rapists not to rape @alecbaldwin ?” pointing out the hypocrisy in blaming the victims, rather than the perpetrators.
At the same time, word got around to Asia Argento, another of Weinstein’s most outspoken victims, who also shared the video and added that Baldwin was “either a complete moron or providing cover for your pals and saving your own rep. Maybe all three.”
In response, Baldwin posted “If you paint every man w the same brush, you’re gonna run out of paint or men” from his foundation account and tagged Argento, at which point Argento’s boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, replied that Baldwin was “really too dumb to pour piss out of a boot”. Baldwin then apparently blocked the pair of them—again, from the account meant to run his foundation, meaning that the faces of his three children were oddly enough the ones that ended up representing his comments.
Finally, on Sunday, by the time all this has started to clear up, McGowan summed up the controversy thus: “wee little baby man had a widdle baby tantrum cos he wants to protect rapists. You’re sooo liberal, you scum bucket.” Baldwin, at that point, had at long last called it quits. This time posting from his personal account, @alecbaldwin, Baldwin posted a series of six tweets explaining “w some degree of sadness” that he would be suspending posting “on this a TWITTER account for a period of and in the current climate.” He then further explained his stance when it comes to victim blaming:
His sixth tweet added that his foundation account “will continue to post re our work w the arts and environment”—never mind that that was the account that was behind the drama in the first place, and behind the drama in 2013 when he went on a homophobic rant against a Daily Mail reporter and subsequently temporarily deleted the account.
All this isn’t a surprise from a man infamous for foul-mouthing his own pre-teen daughter, but it is surprising for someone who just a few days earlier, last Thursday, had given a speech to a crowd in New York that seemed to have indicated he’d changed: “I certainly have treated women in a very sexist way. I’ve bullied women. I’ve overlooked women. I’ve underestimated women,” he said. “From time to time, I’ve done what a lot of men do, which is…when you don’t treat women the same way you treat men.”
It doesn’t seem like Baldwin has moved on from that behavior, but hopefully he now understands that women in the industry have much more to deal with: Whereas Baldwin was unable to take some Twitter hate from Argento, the actress is still speaking out after being forced to leave her home country of Italy for Germany because of the intense misogyny she’s faced there since coming forward.
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